KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ashley Fox is proud of every bruise, welt, contusion and wound.
Each one tells a story:
The swollen knot on her elbow that has turned purple — and a swirl of other unidentifiable colors — suffered when she hit the floor chasing a dig on the volleyball court.
The badly sprained ankle she rolled while sprinting on the softball field.
A shoulder so sore she couldn’t lift her right arm over her head as the result of hours of throwing a softball and swinging at a volleyball at the net.
And all the other assorted bumps, bruises and blemishes from putting her body on the line in multiple sports.
Yes, all of those marks tell a story. They all spin the same one.
The Karns City senior is always willing to do what it takes to win — even if that means incurring a few gnarly scars.
“Battle bruises,” Fox said. “I hustle to every ball. I hustle at practices. I have a lot of passion for it.”
That passion is evident in everything she does — from the volleyball court, to the softball field, as well as on the track.
Fox is always competing. Fox is always trying to be the best.
In the spring for the Karns City softball team, Fox batted over .500 and was a first-team, all-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference center fielder. In a game against Redbank Valley in April, the switch-hitter went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a triple and eight RBI.
Also a standout player for her travel softball team, the Steel City Athletics, Fox batted .424 with six home runs and 11 RBI in just 19 games this summer. In 2019, Fox batted .503 with nine home runs and 66 RBI in 90 games for Steel City.
Softball has been her No. 1 sports since she was 13. It’s the sport she will play at the next level at Gannon University in the spring of 2023.
“That was a dream come true,” Fox said. “I’ve always wanted to play softball in college.”
Fox received a great deal of interest from Division II schools, including just about every program in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
But she didn’t appear on Gannon University’s radar until a chance meeting during a travel softball tournament this summer.
“The assistant coach at Gannon was our umpire for a game,” Fox said, “So, he noticed me, and I got to talk to him. He talked to my travel coaches and it just went from there.”
Immediately, Gannon jumped to the top of Fox’s list. The university had the major she wanted, engineering, and the school also had a four-year program instead of a five-year one offered by many other colleges.
It turned out to be a perfect fit for Fox.
“The education was my No. 1,” said Fox, who has a 4.6 GPA. “I didn’t want to have to go that extra year.”
There was a brief time when Fox toyed with the idea of throwing the javelin in college. And, why not? She’s pretty good at that, too.
Last spring, Fox broke the school record in the event with a throw of 133 feet, 1 inch. She advanced to the PIAA Track and Field Championships where she finished fifth in Class AA with a throw of 132-9.
“That was the best thing in the entire world. I was so excited,” Fox said of placing at the state meet. “That was my goal the whole year, to make it to states.”
She also runs the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, is on the 400-meter relay and does the long jump.
Her goals are even loftier for this track and field this coming season. Fox is never one to take half-measures.
“I want to try to qualify in as many events as I can,” she said. “And, obviously, medal again. I want to try to excel in everything I do.”
Her toughest event may be finding time between events.
And, well, simply squeezing them all in.
“Getting to the javelin throw on time is my toughest event,” Fox said, chuckling. “Throwing and running the track is really hard because you have to be at the top of the field, at the bottom of the field — you have to listen to everything. I run from one to the other — a lot.
“Getting the the javelin,” Fox added, smirking, “is my best event.”
Fox, though, is used to being on the move. She rarely has a spare moment — ever.
“There are days when I’m at the school for 12 hours,” she said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had free time.”
Fox has also become a leader on whatever team she is playing for at the time.
She’s always quick with a smile or some funny or sarcastic comment to disarm her teammates. She also knows when to get serious.
“She knows when to play hard and when to goof off and have fun,” said Karns City volleyball coach Sharon Schmoll. “It’s a good balance. She’s a great team-player and I think everybody appreciates that about her. I’m definitely going to miss her next year. It’s been great getting to know her.”