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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Ashley Blanche - Women's Basketball 2002-06
Blanche gives back,
much like basketball assists
By Bruce Brown
Ashley Blanche recalls the day her future was determined, that defining moment when she realized what her life held.
Blanche was a source of energy for UL's Ragin' Cajun women's basketball program as a point guard from 2002-2006, but the combative product of Cabrini High in New Orleans had to battle through several injuries in her college career.
How she found a solution to one injury led to her current career as a successful doctor of chirpractic medicine.
“Originally,” Blanche said, “I studied biology, then I switched to exercise science because I thought it did a better job of teaching you how the human body works. My parents thought it was no different than majoring in P.E.
“I thought I would go into physical therapy.”
That's when fate stepped in.
“I had a back injury my sophomore year, and no one could figure out what was causing it,” she said. “I saw a phsycal therapist and an orthopedic surgeon, and all they could come up with was that my core was weak.
“I had a six-pack (abdominal muscles) and worked out 6 hours a day, so I knew I had core strength. But I had pain everytime I did anything associated with basketball.”
She was getting frustrated, and so was coach J. Kelley Hall.
“Coach called me in and said I needed to be playing,” she said. “If not, they needed to re-think my scholarship. What are we going to do?
“A friend suggested I try a chiropracter. I said I didn't want to do that, but we had tried everything else. I met with Dr. Robert Lejeune, and he said my hips were out of line. He made one adjustment, and it was the first time I hadn't felt pain in months.
“I was back in practice that day. It was a life-changing experience for me.”
Soon, Blanche was a sparkplug, a leader who helped the program from 8-19 to 13-15 to 22-9 and 1810.
She was a quick, fast-thinking assists artist who finished with 384 career dishes (4th all-time at the school) including 151 (5th) and a 5,0 average (6th) to earn honorable mention All-Sun Belt acclaim in 2004-2005.
There were other injuries along the way, including a broken arm, broken navicular bones in both feet, and a sore head from a tumble on the Cajundome floor, but she was determined to make a difference.
“My freshman year, I had to get used to the speed of the game,” she said. “It was different on my shot and rebounding. To get my shot off, I had to float it a little more against taller players in the lane. I had to have a quicker release.
“It started off very rough. My first year, it was a job, because we weren't winning. It was very different than high school. You play because you love the game, but it's just not very fun when you lose.”
Winning came in 2004-05 on the 22-9 squad led by recent UL Hall of Fame inductee Anna Petrakova, the program's first winning season in 17 years.
“It started to be fun again,” Blanche said. “It was what we had been working toward for 2 years. It was awesome to see the support grow. We had high school teams coming to see us play, when before it was just the players' parents.
“It felt good to expect to win.”
Pairing Blanche with Petrakova proved to be magical.
“We had that connection,” said Blanche. “She didn't have to look. She knew the ball was coming her way. We had that feel for each other. I love Anna. She always had a positive attitude and worked hard.
“We were the two youngest players on the team when I got there. We grew close. Grew up together.”
It was a match made in Heaven, showcasing a talented scorer and assists ace.
“I really liked assists,” Blanche said. “I was used to distributing the ball to offensive talent. I worked on mastering the game mentally. We did film work to know our opponent and know how to beat tham. We worked on better fundamentals.”
Blanche said she made the right choice to attend UL.
“Gay Nix actually recruited me,” Blanche said. “It came down to Birmingham Southern, UL and Memphis. UL was far enough from home, but close enough so family and friends could see me play.
“Nix said they wanted somebody to represent Louisiana, and that stuck with me.”
Now, years later, she remains in the state, still dishing out assists in the form of health care.
Blanche attended Parker College and is a certified chiropractic sports physician at Momentum Chiropractic in Baton Rouge. Numerous special areas of study include Graston Soft Tissue Mobilization.
Beyond the technical knowledge in methods like dry needling and compression sleeves, Blanche brings the spirit of an athlete who knows what it's like to battle injuries.
“We want to get you better as quickly as possible,” she said. “If you have to sit out a game, I can deliver the message so you'll understand the team will be better off when you're 100 percent. I can relate to what they're going through.”
Blanche, who works two days a week in New Orleans and has several football players as patients, also counts former teammates on her list of those she helps.
“I thank God every day,” she said. “I'm doing what I'm supposed to do with my life.”
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See Ashley and her 2005-06 teammates below.
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Click here for the 2005-06 Women's Basketball Photo Gallery.
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Click here for Ashley's Athletic Network Profile.
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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.
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