Ashley Almond and the FCA group at Southern Nazarene University.

Ashley Almond and the FCA group at Southern Nazarene University.

Ashley Almond has plenty to do at Southern Nazarene.

She is the president of the FCA on the Bethany campus and is majoring in kinesiology with a minor in math. She is also a member of the Crimson Storm basketball team.

OSN-SNU-Ashley-Almond-2015-FCA

Ashley Almond. Photo courtesy SNU Sports Info.

Basketball is a focal point in all that.

“Basketball is my passion and I love the influence and how I’m able to give God glory on the court,” Almond said.

But in the past three years, she has learned there are many things to do that honor God outside the sidelines and baselines.

“Just the simple things you do throughout the day,” Almond said. “Being a good listener with a friend – not chiming in all the time, but just listening and hearing what people have to say, their stories.

“And when you’re at lunch and in the cafeteria and someone leaves behind their trash or their plate and you pick it up and throw it away. It’s not necessarily all about the words you have to say, but it’s a lot about what you do behind the scenes that, you know, not everybody see that can give God glory as well.”

Almond is doing much behind the scenes now, but she’s also finds things to do out front as well. And she has been no stranger to basketball’s spotlight.

She played basketball for four years at Piedmont High School and helped her team to a state tournament appearance in her junior year in 2012. As a senior, she was named to the Big All-City Team and was an FCA All-Stater.

However, her high school basketball career ended earlier than expected when she tore her left ACL during Christmas break, only nine games into the season. That’s not much time to gain notice from programs at the next level to get the chance to continue to play the sport she loved.

Almond played for four years at Piedmont High School and was named Wildcat of the Year in both her sophomore and junior years.

Almond played for four years at Piedmont High School and was named Wildcat of the Year in both her sophomore and junior years.

But Almond did catch the attention of the basketball program at SNU and coach Derek Dorris, who saw plenty in her.

“I just liked her heart and her ability to manage the game,” Dorris said.

“In just talking to her, she’s got such a great spirit about her. I felt like she’d be a great fit for our program and she has far exceeded our expectations.

“And I know that she hasn’t been able to participate athletically on the floor very much, and that’s been a frustrating thing for her. But off the floor, just the stuff and her leadership, her personality, she’s just a joy to have.”

Almond said she was thankful to have the chance to keep playing.

“I’m very blessed,” Almond said. “High school’s not like college where you can redshirt and have another year. And at that point I hadn’t had any offers to play at the next level and I was very stressed, to be honest, because I did want to play at the next level.

“Basketball is my passion and I love the influence and how I’m able to give God glory on the court. That was kind of the only way give God glory.

“And after (the injury), it opened my eyes to say ‘Hey Ash, you can give God glory in other things, not just basketball. You have to use your other talents and abilities and not just rely on basketball.’ I was very blessed to get an offer later on my senior year from SNU.”

Almond played in 21 games as a freshman, averaging three point a game and was preparing her for her sophomore season when she was forced to the sidelines again.

“I tore my ACL in the preseason – same knee. And it was difficult, just because you think, ‘I’ve already gone through once, so I can overcome it again.’ But then again I also thought, ‘Why does this have to happen to me again?’ and that was really tough.

“I knew and I still know what I have to do to get back to play and to be 100 percent. And I have awesome support around me – my teammates, friends, family – and they just keep reminding me to take this one day at a time, that God has something you can learn in this and maybe you’ll be able to share your story that will inspire someone else who is going through the same thing.”

FCA Spotlight presented by Texoma Manufacturing

FCA Spotlight presented by Texoma Manufacturing

Those sidelines Almond faces are simply those on the basketball court. She is having an impact on her campus in numerous ways, including her work in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I’m the president of FCA here and I just love FCA,” Almond said. “It’s awesome to be able to go around to other colleges and meet other people that have the same passion as you do to share Christ and have a love for athletics. Having those two things in common with a lot of different people, you get to network and connect with a lot of people around the state of Oklahoma and that’s awesome.”

Her time in FCA began long before college.

“I was on a leadership team my senior year in high school. I went to FCA Extreme Camp all four years in high school. I love the organization and what they stand for.”

Almond hasn’t stopped pushing herself to get back onto the court. And in doing that, her coach said she is doing more than just that.

“The way she’s handled this recovery is just something that has remarkable to me,” Dorris said. “She’s been at every practice. She’s still letting me know that, ‘Coach, I won’t be able to be there today, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment.’

“Although, she’s not able to participate physically, emotionally she has stayed engaged throughout. Like I said, this type of leadership you don’t coach. We’re just happy to be a part of and just happy to have her.”

What Almond is doing is more than just what she would have done before, while doing what she can to get to do what she did before.

“I knew and I still know what I have to do to get back to play and to be 100 percent. And I have awesome support around me – my teammates, friends, family – and they just keep reminding me to take this one day at a time, that God has something you can learn in this and maybe you’ll be able to share your story that will inspire someone else who is going through the same thing.”

And maybe she did just that right now.