Editor’s Note: Coaches in the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa region are adapting to the world of sports in a pandemic as most teams gear up for a restart to begin 2021. If you’re a local coach with a story to tell and are ready and willing to hit the ground running please reach out to Appeal Sports Editor Jeff Larson at jlarson@appealdemocrat.com. 

Ashley Walden is hopeful that the pandemic will be on a downward trend long enough by this spring to enable the Yuba College softball team to hit the diamond for what looks to be a shortened and modified 2021 season. Walden, the 49ers head coach and Rio Linda resident, took some time to answer a few questions from the Appeal regarding sports in a pandemic and a little into her background as a 32-year-old coach for a junior college softball program. 

Please enjoy what she has to say. 

With the return of team practice on a conditioning level how are your players and other staff handling the new normal playing outdoor sports in a pandemic? Yuba College is working hard to get game day ready. The team is taking this time to prepare for a quick and intense season. Playing later in the spring allows us to condition for such a season. We want to minimize injuries. Condensed season or not, I am looking forward to being back on the field. Last season was cut short, the rest of the year has been crazy, so being back will feel great. 

Will weather be a factor for 2021? How will you adjust? 

Weather is always a factor every softball season. There is a saying: “You know it is softball season when it starts raining.” Adjusting to weather is not anything new for softball. It allows coaches to be more creative for indoor practices.

What’s your music of choice when entering or exiting a room? 

My choice of music when entering a room is anything Jason Aldean and when I exit, my music is anything Eminem or Cardi B. The country and rap genres sum up my personality.

What brought you to the Yuba-Sutter area?

My family is from the Chico area and I grew up in Willows. The Yuba-Sutter area is not too far from my roots. I love small town communities and the countryside – Yuba-Sutter has both.

Where would you like to retire to/live for a year?

I would love to retire in Humboldt County. I went to school at Humboldt State. The area has amazing hiking spots and beautiful beaches.

Dream vacation? I like to pride myself on being a traveler. I have been to many places: Cancún, Amsterdam, New York City, to name a few. My dream vacation, however, would be Ireland or Scotland. Learning more about my heritage would be amazing but to see William Wallace’s sword would be a life memory to cherish.

What is the closest you’ve been to a famous person?

My favorite famous person that I have seen, met and took pictures with is Mickey Mouse. I love Disney! Meeting Head Coach Patty Gasso of University of

Oklahoma at the NCAA Coaches Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana is a treasured moment too. She is my softball idol.

Favorite memory to share? 

My favorite memory is playing for a National USA softball team in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I was 18 years old traveling to Europe for the first time. I met some amazing people, played softball, and toured the area. I was able to see the Anne Frank Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, and checked out the Red-Light District.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a zoologist. At the time, I would say that was my dream job. To have a chance to work with big cats would have been incredible. African cats and Puma cats are specifically my favorite of the big cats.

Now that I am older, I would say my dream job would be to travel the world and write about it.

Favorite places in the area?  I really enjoy hiking so some of my favorite local spots are the Sutter-Buttes, Yuba River, Upper Park in Chico, and Brownsville area.

What do you like about yourself?  I am easy-going, understanding, passionate, flexible, tenacious, kind and caring. Some people may feel the need to be critical, harsh and have consequences. I like to earn respect by being more open and understanding. I do not like having people do things for me out of fear and force; rather I would prefer people to do things because they genuinely want to. 

What is your heaven on earth? Being near the ocean and always having my dogs with me. Animals age out too quickly. I hate the idea of the inevitable tragic day of losing them.

Favorite book? My favorite author is Stephen King. I love Stephen King novels. When it comes to everyday reading, I have enjoyed the Twilight Series, The Hunger Game Series, The 50 Shades of Grey Series and The Hacker Series.

What movie stops you while flipping through the TV channels? Braveheart,

Last of the Mohicans, The Green Mile, Stand By Me, Pulp Fiction or Pretty

Woman.

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