When Ashley Procious returned to Tommy Thomas Gymnasium for the start of voluntary summer workouts on June 8, it felt like a trip down memory lane.
It had been three months since the recent graduate of The Colony, who will soon begin her college career at Stephen F. Austin, had been together with her teammates on the court. Smiles and conversation about the restart of volleyball were shared amongst the group.
Yet, this time, the roles were reversed.
The Colony volleyball team was in need of another coach to ensure the Lady Cougars had enough coaches present to be in compliance with the new coach to student-athlete ratio guidelines that had been laid out by the University Interscholastic League in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Procious was more than happy to teach her former teammates all of the skills that she had learned from former The Colony coach Terri Harrod and her staff, who helped to craft her game to where she not only was a first-team all-district selection at middle blocker for her junior and senior seasons, but also an NCAA Division I prospect.
“I got an email a few weeks ago from coach (Emma Petolick) and was asking if I could help a little bit,” Procious said. “I was excited to help. It's different because I want to be out there playing, but I also want to help them be good out there this year too. They're still my best friends, too.”
Procious quickly corrected any mistakes in a friendly manner.
“It says a lot because last year I had a big role on the team,” she said. “I think that I was able to carry over that into here. I've definitely grown. I've had a good experience with this and club team. I feel like that I've grown a lot as a player and a person and that will carry over to college.”
But for Procious, a return to the gym also serves as a reminder for her to be mentally sharp as she prepares to step foot on the court July 5 for her first official practice as a member of the SFA volleyball team.
The hard work has already started.
In addition to getting in her touches with her former teammates at The Colony, Procious has been working out with Instinct Volleyball Club, a club volleyball team based in Lake Dallas.
“We work on ball control and other detailed skills,” she said. “I haven’t been there as much as I would have liked, but I’m going back twice (this week).”
At home, Procious has an area in her garage designated for workouts.
“I do agility, weight workouts,” she said. “Luckily, I have weights at home, so I was able to use those. Then, I have conditioning days where I go run.”
Doing all of the workouts on her own during the pandemic has Procious feeling mentally strong.
“I think definitely shows me to be flexible and optimistic,” she said. “It shows that you want to be here and are here because there are so many things going on in this world. I think showing up makes you a better player and prepare for the future.”
In the meantime, Procious is ready for her first college practice in a couple of weeks in Nacagdoches. SFA opens the season Aug. 21 at The University of Texas at Arlington.
“I’m definitely nervous but excited,” she said. “I'm stay in a house with eight other freshmen. So, we're all going to be on our own.”