Lady Cat Ashley Forrest was one of two seniors on this season’s team. Her career came to an end when the NAIA made the decision to cancel championship games just hours before the Lady Cats were set to compete in their first game of the tournament.
Forrest says the hardest part is the fact she didn’t know the game against Vorhees would be her last game.
“It’s just something that’s going to be hard for me to get over because there’s no closure,” Forrest said. “My last game, I didn’t know was my last game. I didn’t have that moment when your coach pulls you out of the game and you’re walking off the court for the last time.”
Forrest was a four-year member of the Lady Cat basketball team, but her time with College of the Ozarks goes back even further than that.
She has two brothers, four and eight years older than her. They each played baseball at C of O.
“I had been at C of O for eight years before I was even thinking of going there,” Forrest said. “So I was really familiar with the campus, I was really familiar with the people.”
Lady Cats’ head coach Becky Mullis began watching Forrest when she was a freshman at Branson High School. Forrest said that helped influence her decision to play basketball at C of O as well.
“I was really familiar with her,” Forrest said. “She kept in touch all four years.”
Forrest came in off the bench her first three years. She said, as a freshman, she actually got quite a few minutes. She rolled her ankle her sophomore year and admitted that set her back a bit, but the final two years, she fought for time on the court.
“I just had to play my role,” Forrest said. “There were some nights where Coach would tell me my role was to shoot threes, so that was going to be my role.”
She said she’s always been a team player and has always done whatever her coach or the team needed her to do to be successful.
“Obviously, I pushed myself every day,” Forrest said. “I wanted to start, I wanted to play the most I could.”
Her senior year, she earned her starting spot. And against Northern New Mexico, Forrest put up a career-high 22 points – 18 of which came from threes.
Mullis said Forrest never let the fact she wasn’t starting discourage her.
“She stayed the course,” Mullis said. “She didn’t start until her senior year, she played behind all-americans her first three years, she came in off the bench for three seasons and just accepted her role.”
In Forrest’s time as a Lady Cat, she played in 133 games. She scored 731 points, averaged 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game.
This year, she was one of the top three-point shooters in the country, ranking No. 12 in Division II for 3-point field goal percentage (42.4%). She scored 277 points over the course of 33 games, and sank 70 3-point shots.
While she – like many athletes around the country – is disappointed with how the season had to come to a close, she said she understands why the call was made. She’s been trying to look at the positives rather than focusing on how her career ended.
“I mean, we ended on a championship,” Forrest said. “It was a conference championship, but it’s the first time I’ve ever ended a season on a win so that’s pretty amazing to say.”
Forrest is graduating from C of O in May and was accepted to Missouri State University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. It’s supposed to start May 25th. However, like many other things at this time, she isn’t sure what will be happening then.