In a small-town gym in northwest Tennessee, Ashley McElhiney started as a pee-wee player in the second grade and never looked back. Her skills were advanced and her grit unmatched. Her desire for team accomplishments, rather than personal glory, produced an impressive 77-0 home record at Gleason School.
Individual accolades of the All-District and All-Region MVP, Associated Press and TSWA All-State, West Tennessee Player of the Year, and AAU All-American were quickly added to McElhiney’s resume. With back-to-back state tournament appearances, 1999 was the magical year that ‘this little general’ brought home the gold ball, while capturing Class-A Miss Basketball and tournament MVP honors. Her #24 jersey is now retired and hanging in the halls of Gleason School.
McElhiney’s accomplishments continued with a successful college career at Vanderbilt University. She added SEC second and third team honors, SEC All-Tournament, a team championship and runner-up finish, and four NCAA appearances to her credit. This 1000-Point Club athlete and 673 assist leading point guard left the Lady Commodores with the most forty minute games played. In 2001, she was a USA Women’s World University gold medalist and was featured in ESPN magazine. McElhiney finished second in the NCAA National Three Point Shootout and reached the pinnacle of accomplishments when she was selected by the Indiana Fever in the third round of the 2003 WNBA Draft.
McElhiney once again made history, becoming the first woman to coach a men’s professional ABA team, also claiming coaching stints at the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This SEC legendary, All-Century team member currently resides in Dyersburg, TN with her husband, Joel Ayers, and their five children. She and Joel work as a team, coaching girls’ basketball and instilling the values of hard work, relentless determination, and respect for the game.