It’s Point for Callaway standout
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Soccer has been such a massively important part of Ashley Bowden’s life.
Whether she’s playing for her high-school team at Callaway or participating in travel soccer, the sport holds a special place in her heart.
With her time at Callaway coming to a close, Bowden isn’t ready to stop playing the sport she loves, so in recent months she has been exploring different college options.
Fortunately for Bowden, there’s a school close to home that has everything she’s looking for.
Bowden, who is preparing for her senior season that begins next week, has signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Point University in West Point.
Bowden made it official during a signing ceremony on Friday morning, with many of those closest to her on hand to celebrate the moment.
“I’ve always wanted to play in college. Soccer’s the only thing I’ve known,” Bowden said. “Even in the offseason, I don’t know what to do with myself because I’m always doing soccer.”
As for the decision to attend Point University, Bowden said a comfort level with the school helped make the decision an easy one.
“When I went there, everyone was super-nice, and I felt at home and comfortable,” Bowden said. “Sometimes you go to college and feel a little out of place, but I didn’t feel out of place at all.”
It also helped that Bowden has a friend and former teammate to lean on for first-person advice.
Kelly Carlisle, a Callaway High graduate, is a sophomore at Point, and she has thrived at the school.
“I asked her, how did you know Point is the place for you, because it’s a big decision,” Bowden said. “You always have doubts, and she really helped me with the process.”
Bowden will be playing for Randy Douglas, who is heading into his 20th season as the head coach of the women’s soccer team.
Douglas, who expects to have a big signing class of more than 10 players, is thrilled with the program’s new addition.
“For me, we always ask the Lord to bring us the right players. A lot of times there are talented players, but not everything else is ready to go,” Douglas said. “But I can tell just by the way people are talking about (Bowden), that we’re getting the right player on and off the field, and that’s really important, because this is going to be a big recruiting class.”
Douglas added that “I want that group to do well not just on the field, but to do well off the field, but to have this passion for God, and have this passion to lead this team in the direction it needs to go.”
Bowden has been starting since she was a freshman, and she has enjoyed tremendous team and individual success.
When Bowden was a sophomore, Callaway won the first state-tournament game in the history of the program.
The Lady Cavaliers followed that up by winning another state game in 2018, and they advanced to state last year and lost in the first round.
Shonna Yawn, who coaches Bowden in soccer and cross country, is grateful to have had her in the program for four years.
“She’s always been there, always been one I could go to and say this is what I want, this is what I want to do,” Yawn said. “She was a captain last year, she’s a captain this year, and she always excels in everything.”
Yawn, addressing Bowden with moist eyes, said “you’re irreplaceable for us. I want you to know that. Continue leading our team this year, and I look forward to seeing your future as a Skyhawk. You’re going to be a great asset to the team.”
Another one of Bowden’s coaches at Callaway, Jeff McGuffin, calls her “a coach’s dream.”
“She has been a rock on this team, and when she leaves, she’ll leave as one of the winningest players to come through Callaway,” McGuffin said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without you.”
While Bowden has been a soccer standout since she arrived at Callaway, she was a newcomer to the cross-country team last fall.
Bowden was Callaway’s top runner, leading the team in every event, and she placed 38th at the state meet in Carrollton.
“I wanted to take a break from travel ball,” Bowden said of her decision to run cross country. “I love to run and coach Shonna knows that, and she asked me to come out for cross country. So I said OK, I’ll try it.”
When Bowden made the leap and joined the cross-country team, she didn’t want to go in halfway.
“I had a goal that I was going to go to state,” she said. “I like to meet my goals and test my abilities, so I pushed myself super hard and made it to state.”
For the moment, Bowden is committed to making the most out of her final season of high-school soccer.
“We still have some work to do. We lost a lot of players, but I have the feeling it’ll be a good year,” Bowden said. “We have some newcomers this year, too, and they definitely have some potential.”
Soon enough, Bowden’s time at Callaway will come to a close, and she’ll putting on the cap and gown for her graduation ceremony.
It’s a school that means a lot to her and has for as long as she remembers.
“I’ve been at Callaway since the beginning, because my mom was one of the first teachers to teach here,” Bowden said. “It’s definitely a part of me.”
Bowden’s mother Tracy, along with her father Robert and younger sister Taylor, were on hand for Friday’s signing celebration. Bowden was grateful to have them, and everyone else there with her.
“It means a lot to me,” Bowden said. “I’m very close with my family and friends. I consider my friends like my second family, so it means the world to me that everyone was able to come out and share this amazing day with me.”
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