Ashley Zahn has been through it all during her time at St. Bonaventure.
She’s battled back from three surgeries and scored 21 points in a game during her junior year. She played against Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 during her sophomore year and started 17 of 29 games during her junior season where the Bonnies finished 10-19.
St. Bonaventure will honor Zahn during their Senior Day before they play Davidson this afternoon.
It’s been a long journey for Zahn, and as five years come to an end Zahn remembers everything she’s been through and everything she’s learned from it.
Zahn spent last year recovering from shoulder surgery. She’s been through surgery three times during her career. It’s definitely impacted her, but she fought through it.
“The first was probably the easiest surgery I had bouncing back because you really didn’t know what you were getting into,” said Zahn. “You just knew you got to work hard and you’ll get back, but by the second and third it was more frustrating just because you knew the process and having even more surgeries made it even harder to get back.”
Zahn could have given up, but she wouldn’t. She’s too much of a fighter to give up.
“It was a struggle,” said Zahn. “But I never let myself get down about it.”
“She’s tough,” added head coach Jim Crowley. “One of the things I think that’s come through for her is how strong she is.”
Zahn’s tough. You can’t ever question her dedication to the game through everything she’s been through. She took lessons from all of those disappointing surgeries she experienced.
“It’s a matter of always bouncing back and staying cool and knowing how to work through it,” said Zahn.
Zahn doesn’t score many points. She’s averaged 3.3 points per game during her career.
What she’s done for this program can’t be measured in points scored. She’s been a constant for her teammates and coaches through every surgery.
“Ashley is a fighter,” said Crowley. “A kid who comes back from the shoulder surgery she’s had and not playing a ton and wanting to come back to just compete one more time for our program, for her school that’s a kid who just fights through it.”
Crowley has seen Zahn grow up from a freshman that has battled injury after injury to a graduate student who plays 17 minutes a game.
“Anytime someone is a senior; you watch her grow up and in Ashley’s case that’s been a really special thing to see,” said Crowley. “She’s just matured into a really good part of our program, and someone we are really proud to have been part of our program.”
Zahn had a storied career at Canandaigua Academy in New York. Daily Messenger named Zahn the 2010 Girls basketball Player of the Year during her senior season. She scored the most career points (2,400) for her high school.
Zahn played with her two older sisters, Nicki and Lia, in high school.
“All three of us ended up starting together before they left, so it was cool,” said Zahn.
Zahn grew up going to her sisters’ games where her dad, who played college football and baseball at Brockport, coached.
“When I was little my sisters played on the older team so I would follow them around and my dad usually coached them so I’d get in at the end,” said Zahn. “I grew up with them and that just made me want to work harder to be as good as them I was playing them.”
Competing with her older sisters helped in Zahn’s development.
“It definitely made me better,” said Zahn. “When I was real young I wasn’t as big so I struggled, but then as I got older when we played on Varsity (together).”
Her high school head coach, Bob Guy, helped in her development, too.
“He was a really good coach. He got on me,” she said. “He pushed me to become even better and definitely helped me through the basketball process of where I am.”
After Zahn gets her graduate degree in sports studies next year, she wants to coach and make people better just like Guy did for her.
“I want to coach in college, but I know I’ll probably have to start lower and work my way up, but that’s okay,” said Zahn.
Zahn has what it takes to be a successful coach. She’s been a mentor for her teammates these last two seasons, which has been a major part of her contributions to her team.
“I see her with some of the younger kids, and I think she’s having a really positive influence on them,” said Crowley. “They know what she’s been through and she’s been a good teammate to them this year, so I think that has been impactful.”
Zahn has been through it all during her time at Bonaventure–surgeries, NCAA Tournament appearance, starting games and making three-pointers. She’s the last player from the best team in Bonaventure history. Zahn’s favorite moment at Bonaventure, unsurprisingly, was playing with Jessica Jenkins, Megan Van Tatenhove and Armelia Horton on that best team.
“They were really great teammates and role models, and just going through that process of how hard you have to work to get there and then getting there and just seeing how cool it is to finally reach that moment that everyone wishes they could,” said Zahn.
Half a decade comes to an end for Zahn. She’s learned a lot about herself through everything she’s been through. Important stuff that’ll be with her long after basketball ends.
“(Going through surgeries) definitely makes you a better person outside, too because not everything is going to go your way all the time,” said Zahn. “It definitely taught me when I move forward here how to act in tough situations.”