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DLN ALL-AREA: Ashman usually has talent at Shanahan, but this year he led Eagles through adversity, too

DOWNINGTOWN >> Finding a coach of the year recipient isn’t as much about success as it is about identifying a coach that has overcome adversity and still finds success. And when it comes to volleyball in Chester County, Bishop Shanahan’s Greg Ashman checks all of the boxes.

Seemingly always sporting khaki shorts, flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirt, Ashman is easy to spot, and so are his teams. In 14 seasons, he’s built the Shanahan program into a local force, a regional power and statewide predominance.

For the second time in three seasons, the Eagles authored an unbeaten regular season, won yet another District 1 crown and advanced to the finals of the PIAA Class 4A state tournament. And with Ashman guiding the way, Shanahan did it all despite facing a rash of injuries and illnesses that could have crippled most programs.

“I talk to the kids a lot about what it talks to win a state title,” said Ashman, who got it done at Shanahan in 2009. “There is a lot of stuff that is in your control and a lot that isn’t. Injuries and sickness are completely out of your control. But we also had a lot of things line up this season even though we had the injuries and sicknesses.”

All-Stater Cara Shultz missed most of the season with a stress-fracture, and Ashman’s daughter and setter, Ceandra, played very little due to migraine headaches. And then all-league hitter Natalie Ogden suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the heart of the postseason.

“We’ve kind of gotten used to it,” Ashman said. “It seems to be something every year. The year we won the state title, the Swine Flu came through and they closed school for a week and we had to cancel a tournament.”

The Eagles are 286-45 during Ashman’s tenure, and his Ches-Mont mark of 183-7 is even better. That’s a winning percentage of .963.

In 2017, Shanahan won its third straight district title and sixth overall under Ashman. The Eagles have also reined over the Ches-Mont National 11 times in 14 years. Ashman’s latest squad went 25-1, were nationally ranked, and suffered its lone setback to North Allegheny in the state title match.

“At Shanahan, we are fortunate our talent-base is large, but when you have those numbers, it’s also tough keeping everybody happy,” Ashman said.

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