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Alumni Magazine

ISE alumna returns to women’s basketball program

Ashley Williams in NC State women's basketball uniform dribbles against opposing team member.
Winston-Salem State played N.C. State in an exhibition game on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. N.C. State won, 80-46.

Alumna Ashley Williams left the NC State women’s basketball program on a high note. Her senior year, the team made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years. She returns as an assistant coach to a team that has won three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships.

Williams graduated from the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) in 2017, following a family tradition of attending NC State.

“I never really looked at anywhere else seriously,” she said. “I knew if I was given an opportunity to do both here, play basketball and come to school, that was going to win out.”
While an engineering course load and the responsibilities of being a Division I athlete are both heavy, she found that they complement one another in that they both encourage creative thinking and problem solving.

“That was something that was cool about ISE, you had to take classes in disciplines that weren’t your own,” she said.

After four years, she left with close bonds with her teammates and the coaching staff.

“Senior day will always be something that sticks with me,” Williams said. “I went through senior day with three other teammates of mine who I went through all four years with, which was really special. I got to live with them, and they’re all still close teammates and friends of mine to this day.

Ashley Williams in red, sleeveless dress holding a basketball.
Ashley Williams

“That day was great. We played North Carolina at home, beat them pretty good in (William Neal Reynolds Coliseum), and that was a lot of fun.”

During her junior year, she realized she was interested in coaching, so she pursued a master’s degree in athletic administration from Indiana University, during which she was a graduate manager for two years before starting her coaching career, first as an assistant coach at Furman University, and then back at Indiana University.

While there, the team made progress on the national level, reaching two regional semifinal rounds — the Sweet 16 — giving Williams experience that she brings to the Wolfpack.

Williams admires Teri Moren, the head coach of the Indiana University women’s basketball team, and the staff. “One thing that they left me with is if you work really hard, and you also surround yourself with really good people and do right by those people, you’d be surprised where it can take you,” she said.

Williams is now working for Wes Moore, who was in his first year as head coach of the team when she was a freshman.

“He’s maybe mellowed a little bit,” she said. “Just don’t tell him I said that.”

Upon her return to NC State, she went to work immediately with a team that is energized for the season.

“We’re approaching our summer workouts like we’re chasing the Final Four,” she said. “They’re hungry.”