Passion, work ethic drive Fontenette
Jan. 5, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas -- Before this season started, when the Texas Longhorns had to write down their choices for team captain, Ashleigh Fontenette dutifully provided three names. Hers was not among them.
Fontenette's reasoning went something like this, "If the team wants me as captain, then my teammates will choose me."
They did, selecting the sophomore guard as co-captain with senior Brittainey Raven. And the reasons for that can best be described in two other words Fontenette wrote down -- on the toe of her shoe, so she can see them before every practice and every game.
"I just do it to remind myself," Fontenette says, "of how I want to play."
For Fontenette, every possession is a privilege she honors with effort. When the Longhorns dismantled Texas Southern late last month, Fontenette set the tone, stealing an in-bounds pass and chasing down a long offensive rebound within the first five minutes.
And hidden among her career-high 30 points last Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff were a team-high three steals.
"The main thing I try to do is lead by example," Fontenette says. "You can talk and say everything in the world, but if you're not leading by playing hard defense and focusing on every possession, you don't have the right to tell anybody else to try harder.
"If I'm not trying my hardest, nothing else means anything."
This summer, knowing she would be transitioning from shooting guard to the point position, Fontenette enrolled herself in a week-long point guard camp, and then found a summer job so she could pay for the registration fees.
Fontenette came home with 50 pages of notes, which she studied daily, and also ordered instructional books online from the camp's founder, Dick Devenzio.
"She has such passion and love for the game," UT coach Gail Goestenkors says. "She embraces every responsibility we give her."
And this year, when that meant taking over as the Longhorns' starting point guard, Fontenette burdened herself with extra stress. She was constantly thinking about bringing the ball up, applying pressure defense.
She was thinking too much.
"I get consumed with having everything perfect. I want everything to be right, and I don't want to make mistakes," says Fontenette, who leads the team in steals and is third in scoring average. "When I mess up, I take it out on myself, and you can see it all over my face."
For the past two games, Fontenette has come off the bench and is dividing more time between the one and two guard spots. From the sideline, Fontenette can get a feel for what is developing on the court, and by time she enters the action, she already has a mental flow.
Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, that translated into a career outing. Fontenette hit her first 10 shots from the floor, and scored 22 first-half points in a mere 10 minutes of play.
"We want her to move with freedom, so she can just play and not think so much," Goestenkors says. "There's always a consistency with Ashleigh's work ethic, so you know she's always going to give her best."