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Parry, Big 10 champs honored in ring ceremony
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
It started with a simple email.
Three years later, Ashley Parry has found a family away from home.
A 2008 Warwick High School grad and a senior at Michigan State University, Parry is a member of the staff with the Lady Spartans’ basketball team. Following two years as a team manager, she is currently an intern with the Director of Basketball Operations and doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the squad.
"I knew I wanted to do something (at Michigan State) to help an athletic team in some way, and it’s a really big university, obviously," Parry said. "So I just started e-mailing people seeing if they needed any help. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into intially, but the basketball team really welcomed me with open arms and it has been a great activity for me the past three years … We’re a very tight-knit group."
For some icing on the cake, Parry was among the players, staff, adminstrators and special guests who received a ring honoring the Lady Spartans’ Big Ten regular-season championship in 2010-11 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center on Sunday, Nov. 6.
"We had a ceremony following our last exhibition game where our coach (Suzy Merchant) spoke and then individually distributed the rings to the players and the staff," Parry said. "It was incredible to just be a small part of the team’s success and just really special — something that not a lot of people get to experience. It was pretty cool."
Her role with the Lady Spartans is an extension from her days at Warwick, where she was involved in athletics as a four-year member of the track and field team and a student athletic-trainer for the Warriors’ football team. Parry also played basketball through her freshman year of high school until injuries curtailed her career.
As she started looking at colleges, Michigan State quickly emerged as the front-runner.
"I knew I kinda wanted to get out and experience something different," said Parry, who is majoring in kinesiology. "I wanted to go to a pretty highly regarded school and challenge myself academically and I also wanted to get out and kind of experience a different culture and see what different areas are like. As soon as I started looking into Michigan State, I knew it was going to be the place for me. I loved it from the beginning."
Parry has also loved her involvement with the Michigan State University women’s basketball program from the get-go. Her duties as a manager included setting up and tearing down for practice every day, participating in drills if needed, and taking stats. On game days, Parry and the managers prepared the locker room and floor, among doing other things.
"During the games," Parry said, "we help with water, stats and anything that the team would need."
As an intern, her responsibilities have expanded into other areas.
"I get to do more of the behind-the-scenes things," Parry said. "I’ve been working with our video coordinators and our graduate assistants as far as scouting teams (and) putting film together for coaches. And I also help do some logistical stuff, like getting things ready for travel and talking with other teams setting up things for our games on the road and stuff like that."
Their next road trip will take the MSU women to Austin, Texas on Dec. 10 and then onto Cancun, Mexico for the Big 12/Big 10 Challenge and the Caribbean Classic.
Unfortunately, the Lady Spartans will be without 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman center Madison Williams, who recently tore her ACL for the second straight year. Currently, the Michigan State women are 5-2 heading into their game against Miami (Fla.) on Thursday, Dec. 1.
"We’re looking alright," Parry said. "We’re currently in the process of kinda reorganizing (because of Williams’ injury) and we’re asking players to play in different roles than what they’re used to. We’re really focusing on trying to use our speed and our quickness to our advantage and really trying to run the floor as best we can, and we’re asking a lot of our freshmen."
The goal, of course, is to build off of last year’s success. In 2010-11, after capturing the conference regular-season title, the Lady Spartans fell in the second round of the Big 10 Tournament and then advanced to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, where they dropped a 65-56 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"The regular season championship was actually the first outright championship in our program’s history," Parry said. "So that was really cool … Hopefully we can get to that Sweet 16 this year. That’d be sweet."
Wherever the Lady Spartans’ path takes them, however, they will travel it as a family.
"We’re around each other all the time. Our season is very long, so we’re all really close," Parry said. "It really is kind of a family away from home. We’ll hang out on weekends, we’ll go to movies, we’ll do dinners and stuff like that. When we travel together, we all hang out. These are big-time athletes in some people’s minds, but we’re friends, we’re all family — it’s really cool. We have a very down to earth group, which is awesome." More PARRY, page B-3