Last Thursday, Ashley Taylor was named as the new head coach of the Franklin-Simpson Lady Cats’ varsity basketball team. She replaces Lex Lindsey, who coached the program for the last two seasons.
“I am very excited and ready for us to get back to work,” Lady Cats’ head coach Taylor said. “I have coached a lot of these girls at the middle school level and some of the girls, I haven’t. So, I am really looking forward to getting back with these girls, digging in and putting in some work in preparing for the upcoming season.”
Taylor, who teaches 4th and 5th grade Special Education at Lincoln Elementary, graduated and played from Creekwood High School in Charlotte TN Started her college career at Lambuth University in Jackson, TN where she played for three years. When the college closed, she transferred and played her senior season and graduated from Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY.
Taylor started her coaching career at Franklin-Simpson Middle School girls basketball team for the past three seasons. She was the assistant coach in her first season and head coach for the last two. In her first season, she led the Lady Cats to win the season-ending Bowling Green Classic Tournament and last season, her team won the district tournament and finished as runner-up in the region tournament.
Once she was hired, Taylor quickly reached out to everyone who plays on the middle school and varsity basketball teams.
“Everyone that I talked to so far already has a level of excitement. They know the hard work we have ahead of us but they are very excited to be on the journey for us to start building our program to where we want it to be,” Taylor said. “I talked to all of the middle school girls and it was mixed emotions. It was excitement for the future but some worry some for the present in what it looks like going forward. I reassured them that continuity from the high school to middle school levels and even to our junior pro, we want this to be one program, Franklin-Simpson girls basketball. Most of the girls have one to two years left and then they will be at the high school. We want to keep that ‘family’ atmosphere that we have built and carry it on to the next level. We just want to be one big basketball family.”
Taylor will have experienced players to work with as the Lady Cats lost one senior in starting guard Evyn McCutchen. But also, she will have a majority of players that played for her when they played for the middle school program.
“Coach Ashley (Taylor) is an amazing coach,” Hadley Turner said. “She helped turned our program around. Coach Ashley wants her players to be the best they can be, and she does anything to help them achieve that. She was on the coaching staff since my 6th-grade year, and she officially became the head coach in 8th grade. The 8th-grade year we worked and emphasizing the word “worked” our tails off to get what we wanted, and that year, we won the championship. She will be a great fit for us, and I believe we have a high chance of winning district.”
“I played for Coach Ashley my 7th and 8th-grade years when she was the head coach at the middle school. She’s that person that is always there for you whenever you need her,” Conleigh Wilson said. “She wants her players to not only play as a family on the court but also act like one outside of basketball. She has created a bond with me and the other girls she’s coached because she makes sure she has that connection between her players. Coach Ashley coached our eighth-grade team to a victory against Bowling Green. She helped me love the game of basketball and I’m so excited to play for her again!”
“The benefit that I have is that I have a lot of girls with playing experience for the upcoming season,” Taylor said. “I have been to a lot of games and I have seen all these girls develop and play. Once this pandemic is lifted, we are going to get in the gym and work on player development and our skills that will further us what they already have as players.”
With the 2020-2021 season opener about seven months away, Taylor is ready to hit the ground running in preparing for the season opener and everything that comes with it.
“This is a dream come true,” Taylor said. “Personally, I have worked hard for all of this. I can’t wait for all of the things that come along with this from doing newspaper and radio interviews and this gives time for our athletes to shine and talk about our program. This gives the community, who supports us, an inside look at our program. Looking forward that comes entail with this in the next few months.”
Once this pandemic is lifted and the safety of the student-athletes is ensured, Franklin-Simpson will finalize plans for strength and conditioning, summer camps and games.