Dan Fleser: Former Lady Vol Ashley Robinson Has A Talk With Her Girls

Monday, June 1, 2020 - by Dan Fleser
Ashley Robinson
Ashley Robinson

Ashley Robinson runs a flourishing youth basketball program for girls and boys in Dallas. Combined with players that she trains, the former Tennessee Lady Vol has gathered more than 80 children under her wing during the past three years for tutelage.

At 6-foot-5, the former starting center has quite the wingspan, enough to also accommodate a wide range of thoughts and an inclination to speak her mind.

Last week, she took the conversation beyond basketball.

Robinson converted a virtual conference on Zoom with some of her girls, a weekly gathering that typically revolves around hoops, into a conversation about George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which has spawned a tsunami-like reaction both nationally and abroad under the broad heading of race relations.

There were 15 to 20 girls in the conference, Robinson estimated. Their ages ranged for 10 to 13 years old. There were white and black girls involved along with different ethnicities represented.

“When I was their age, that was the first time anyone said anything about the race of my best friends,” said Robinson, whose friends were mostly white. “Even then, it didn’t make sense.”

Robinson gave the parents a heads up about the conference’s subject matter and invited them to join. She also included several of her friends. Some were from the aforementioned time in her life, growing up in Grand Prairie, Texas. Overall, their backgrounds were as diverse as the children’s.

Ostensibly, Robinson wanted to be forthcoming and transparent with her players about her perspective.

“I have to fight the good fight,” she said on Monday. “I can’t do what I do with racism. I can’t do what I do with division.”

But she also wants the girls to feel comfortable talking about subjects that are uncomfortable in nature. Hence, her decision to divert the conference from basketball. She’s broached the Me-Too movement with them as well.

“It’s opened up a discussion for them to start talking to each other about it,” Robinson said. “I believe that it gives them a safe place to talk about these things. And it gives them a safe place to talk about these things with people that are different than them.”

Robinson, who has 5-year-old biracial son named Destin, refers to herself as “momma coach” with regard to her players and added, “I’m not raising girls to be quiet but to stand up for themselves.”

With her intentions in mind, I referenced her alma mater and the joint statement released on Sunday from UT athletic director Phillip Fulmer and the 15 head coaches of Vols and Lady Vols teams. The shared message was nearly 500 words in length and thought-provoking in its scope.

Specifically, the statement noted that among the life lessons taught by sports is “the less-touted ability to fully accept and embrace people who are different from us and have very different life experiences.

“On healthy teams, if you wear the same jersey as me, I’ve got your back – regardless of race or ethnicity, it doesn’t matter.”

The statement smartly asked the following two questions: “Why do these healthy cultures exist in small sports teams’ locker rooms all across the country but not in our larger communities? What can we study in a healthy team dynamic that can be applied to a metro city or a rural farm town?”

While not proposing any solutions, the thought process concluded that “if total acceptance, understanding and empathy – regardless of human differences – can coexist on sports teams, those things should be able to coexist anywhere.”

The statement’s conclusion spoke firmly and dramatically to the UT fan base in saying, “If you’re going to support our black student-athletes when they compete, please have the courage to support them and their families in their daily pursuit of peace, happiness and equity.”

In all, it was a statement to which Robinson could relate and utilize as both a mother and a “momma coach.” 

-----

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.

 


Bill Sponsored By Loeffler, Blackburn Aims At Keeping Biological Males From Competing In Girls Sports

UTC Women Tied For Fourth At Hoover Golf Invitational

Mocs Second In Scenic City Collegiate Golf


Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs women’s golf team is tied for fourth after 36 holes of the Hoover Invitational. The ladies made their way around Hoover Country with a morning 301 before coming back with ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs got off to a slow start but had a strong finish at the Scenic City Collegiate at the Honors Course in suburban Chattanooga. The squad started with 308 and closed with a 290, ... (click for more)



Sports

Bill Sponsored By Loeffler, Blackburn Aims At Keeping Biological Males From Competing In Girls Sports

Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act to make it a violation of Title IX for a school that receives federal education funds to permit a biological male to participate in a sports program designated for women and girls. ... (click for more)

UTC Women Tied For Fourth At Hoover Golf Invitational

The Chattanooga Mocs women’s golf team is tied for fourth after 36 holes of the Hoover Invitational. The ladies made their way around Hoover Country with a morning 301 before coming back with 294 in the afternoon. Their 595 is tied with host UAB. Freshmen led the way on this day. Daphne Van Son paced the morning grouping with 73. It was supported by Betriz Barrios at 75, Dorota ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Senator Blackburn Says Republicans "Have The Vote" To Approve Trump Female Nominee For Supreme Court

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday said Republicans " do have the votes in the Senate" to approve a new U.S. Supreme Court justice. She said, "Once the President has made his nomination, Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham will announce the timeline and what it will be. I look forward to voting for a constitutionalist ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Investigating In-Custody Death Of Alton Young, 30

At the direction of the Hamilton County District Attorney, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division is conducting an investigation into the death of Alton Kenyatta Young, 30. Young was arrested on Sunday, at approximately 2 p.m. by the Chattanooga Police Department after being involved in a motor vehicle crash near the 7000 block of East Brainerd ... (click for more)

Opinion

No More Gift Cards

I receive gift cards on special occasions from my family and enjoy them very much as I can make purchases that I could not ordinarily afford. More than once employees of businesses have been rude when gift cards are presented. On one occasion recently at an antique mall the owner got angry when I asked that he use my gift card before my credit card was charged. He accused me ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ballot-Bearer Is Shot

Last week was a typical one for Chicago. The weekly shooting gallery was about normal for the third week of September – 100 people shot, 14 homicides and 86 wounded -- on the downtown streets. But there was one shooting that stood out. A United States Postal Service letter carrier was shot four times when she got in the crosshairs of a drive-by shooting and now the USPS is on the ... (click for more)