Ashley Schmidt is a quintessential Indiana Hoosier. Growing up in the Midwest, young people eat, sleep and breathe the game of basketball.
Schmidt is certainly no exception.
“I probably learned how to dribble before I could ride a bike,” says Schmidt, a first-year graduate student at Clemson University.
A native of Sharpsville, Indiana, Schmidt graduated from Tri-Central High School among a senior class of just 59 students. She took her love of the game two hours from home to Indiana University in Bloomington, one of the most recognized “Meccas” in all of college basketball.
As a freshman, she joined the club basketball team. A year later, she was the organization’s vice president. After that, club president for two years. By senior year, the team had joined the National Club Basketball Association.
“We ended up winning our conference and went to regionals — it was very exciting,” she says.
Basketball also provided exposure to Intramural Sports and to career opportunities in the field of Campus Recreation. By the time her junior year rolled around, she knew graduate school was in her future.
What she didn’t know was everything Clemson had to offer. She interviewed for a graduate assistantship with Chris Cox, Campus Recreation’s associate director for sport programs. She met faculty from the Student Affairs master’s program. She felt an immediate sense of connection and was admitted into the program and hired as a graduate assistant.
Schmidt moved south last summer and began training for her role. She assists Cox with ensuring the Intramural Sports program runs smoothly, including the supervision of student staff and game officials to preparing fields for competitions. She estimates 75 percent of her time is spent with Intramurals, with the rest available to Club Sports.
She was an obvious choice to work with officials. Schmidt was a basketball referee at recreation centers and in community leagues during her time in Bloomington. She’s carried it over this winter to Tigertown, where she officiates basketball at the Central-Clemson Recreation Center two nights a week.
“There seems to be a nationwide shortage of officials, even at some high school levels,” she says. “I’ve loved it and look forward to it every year. I also want to officiate softball and volleyball in the future.”
It’s all part of building a complete skillset within the field. Schmidt says her short-term goal is to continue working with competitive sports and intramurals, but hopes to one day oversee an entire recreation center or department.
As she prepares for the future, she’s enjoying her current training ground. She remembers being awestruck the first time she saw the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex, a multi-use recreational property alongside the shore of Lake Hartwell and one of the finest collegiate facilities in the nation.
“With two new fields coming this spring, it will impact the Clemson campus in a positive way,” she says. “It’s an active campus, which is something I love and am passionate about. I’m excited about the return of softball because it’s warm most of the year in this area — it will open up year-round programming and increase student participation. We’re going to start reaching all corners of the Clemson campus.”
Schmidt raves about the Clemson Experience, citing a feeling of authentic joy from the first time she set foot on campus as a trainee.
“The people have been so welcoming,” she says. “Whether in my academic program or with Campus Rec, it’s felt like a family. The relationships I’ve built have made Clemson a memorable experience and I look forward to the rest of my time as a graduate assistant.”