Women's Basketball celebrates seniors at Commencement
May 18, 2012
This weekend, three athletically gifted and academically focused members of the Texas Women's Basketball family will graduate from the university four years older, four years wiser and looking to the future.
Ashleigh Fontenette, Yvonne Anderson and Ashley Gayle will receive their degrees in Sport Management, Finance and Health Promotion/Pre-Med, respectively. In 2012, the Big 12 Conference recognized all three for their academic achievement and impressively, each will have completed her academic coursework within her four years of athletic eligibility.
TexasSports.com caught up with the three seniors leading up to this weekend's graduation festivities to talk lessons learned and looking to the future.
What is the most important thing that Texas has given to you? Texas has prepared me for life after college. It wasn't easy. Texas has instilled in me that you have to work hard for what you want. Learning to work with people has been great as far as basketball goes, so with moving into the real world and joining business and working with a team, I think my experience here will have helped me in the long run.
Reflecting on your entire experience, how do you feel like you've grown over the last four years? I think I came in not knowing what I wanted to do and along the way, my academic advisors helped me kind of figure that out. So now I'm heading in the direction of pursuing law school, and I think I've just put so many things into perspective.
What is one lesson you will take with you into the future? Learning to work hard, because all of my classes taught me that in order to be successful you have to work hard. You can't slack off and nothing is given to you, so I think that's the main thing.
Do you have any advice for next year's team, particularly for the incoming freshmen? Always believe in each other. I think they're going to be great, and they just have to believe in what they are doing.
What will you miss most about being a student-athlete at Texas? I would say the hospitality. Everybody is just so nice. Heading into the real world will be different. I'll continue to follow the team and if I'm in town I'll come to the games. I'm sure it will be an emotional experience just because I'm not out there playing with my teammates, but I'm excited for the new chapter in my life.
Where are you headed from here? I am taking my LSAT in June and hopefully I do well on that. I also hope to be playing basketball overseas this fall.
What do you feel is the most important thing Texas has given to you? I think it's given me the tools to be able to step into the future. Coming in, I was very introverted, and I wasn't very good at communication. Just working with the academic staff, Randa [Ryan] pushed me to be able to talk to people and communicate what I need to with them and understand what they needed from me. To be able to make those connections will, in the future, be very helpful.
How do you feel like you have grown over the past four years? I think it's in my maturity level, just growing up and being able to rely on other people for things that I wasn't able to do myself. That was mostly my growth. Plus I got a great education so now I have a firm understanding of the finance world. If anything, I grew up. I was away from my parents, and I had to find the connections and bonds I needed here to get that far.
What's one lesson you will take with you in the future? It's understanding that you can learn from anything. I learned a lot in class, but I learned a lot just being on campus. I learned a lot being on a team. I learned a lot doing my summer internship in the business office. It's knowing that wherever you are and what situation you are in, there's always something you can learn and grow from.
What will you miss most about being a student-athlete at Texas? I think I'll miss all the people that I grew to know. Not only that, it's a place I lived for four years. I'm not from Texas, and I don't really have any family in the state of Texas, but in Austin, the people I met became my family. I became very familiar with Austin, and I just love the area and it's kind of sad to realize that I'm not going to be able to live here anymore.
What advice do you have for next year's team, particularly for the incoming freshmen? I think the main thing is just to be confident and be ready to work hard. With the new coaching staff, I know they're going to work hard to make the team the best that they can. They just need to have their minds open and be willing to do everything in their power to be the successful program that we know the University of Texas to have.
Where are you headed from here? I plan to play overseas. That will be more towards the end of the summer. After that, I have some options with some graduate assistant positions, so I know in my future I think I'll coach. Continuing my education is always an option, but the immediate future is going to be continuing to play basketball.
What is the most important thing Texas has given to you during your time here? I think I've had a lot of life experiences here. I have gotten a chance to meet a lot of amazing people, not just alumni but networking. I've been able to travel the world, and I don't think that's something I could have gotten at other universities.
How have you grown over the last four years? I had to get used to being away from home. I really didn't have any family members come out here, so you have to really get used to trusting your teammates and knowing that they have your back even when stuff may not be going as you want it to be. Professionally, I don't procrastinate as much. The academic center helps so much in developing student-athletes as great students and really helps prepare you when you leave college and go into the professional world and go into higher learning, med school, grad school, things like that. I think they did a great job of really giving me the tools I'll need later in life.
What is one lesson you will take with you in the future? Persevere even when things aren't going your way. Having the ability to still push through and give 100 percent really takes you a lot of places.
What's one thing you will miss about being a student-athlete and about being at Texas? I'm going to miss my teammates. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and not many people get to know how it feels to be on a team and grow with a team for four years. And being around all types of people is part of what I'll miss the most.
Do you have any advice for next year's team, particularly for the freshmen? Give 100 percent every time you're on the court because you never know when your last game will be.
Where are you headed after graduation? Hopefully I'll be overseas next fall. I probably won't be able to make many [Texas] games, but if I'm here I'll definitely try to make some. I'll definitely be in touch with my teammates and checking on how they're doing and how the games are going.