Hawaiian native kicks her way to the Natural State
Ashley Asuncion is a freshman soccer who was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii.
Soccer has been a part of her life since she was in Kindergarten.
“I just fell in love with it after a while. I’ve always been playing it, so without it I feel incomplete,” said Asuncion.
For fun, she played soccer and went to the beach. As she matured and progressed her skills in soccer, Asuncion began to play for the Leahi Soccer Club. According to Asuncion, it is the oldest girls-only club on the island and many of the girls who play for the club end up playing at the collegiate level.
Playing at the collegiate level hasn’t been very different for Asuncion. “It’s different because I practice every day, but it’s really not that different because my coaches prepared me well.”
Asuncion feels lucky; not all athletes have amazing coaches early on. During her senior year of high school, her team won the state championship. Also, she made second team all state and second team for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, meaning she was recognized as one of the top players in Hawaii and in the Interscholastic League.
Asuncion said, “[Moving here] was definitely hard at first, but the people here are really nice just like at home. It was a smooth adjustment.”
“I miss [my parents] a lot. I talk to them every day. They were really supportive and never really had any negatives to say about [my decision to attend UALR]. I really wanna make my family and friends proud and let them know that they did a good job raising me.” Asuncion added, “Oh, and my coaches back home.”
Asuncion found out about UALR after being recruited by Head Coach Freddy Delgado and Assistant Coach Chris McNaughto.
“Freddy and Chris scouted me in Texas at a college showcase,” she said. “I considered Holy Names University, Azusa Pacific University, & the University of Portland, [but UALR was] my best option because everything that I ever wanted was gonna be provided for me and the people here are really nice, not like the west coast.”
Outside of her classes, Asuncion spends most of her time in soccer. “We practice five days a week for two hours, and we have two games a week.”
However, being a part of the UALR women’s soccer team has been very beneficial for Asuncion. Her teammates were very welcoming and ready to give advice to the young Hawaiian.
“I guess my least favorite part is practicing in the heat,” said Asuncion. “My favorite part is getting to see my teammates every day. They’re like my family away from home.”
As for the performance of the team, Asuncion commented, “We didn’t really have a great start, but we are getting to where we need to be.”
Asuncion has not decided on a major yet, but she is leaning towards getting a degree in speech pathology. “There is a shortage back home and I want to work with kids, so [speech pathology provides] that potential. I’m hard working, even if I don’t succeed [in something] the first time, I’ll keep fighting to do so.”
“The lifestyle here is different,” according to Asuncion, “What gets me through it is knowing I’ll end up living back home when I’m done with college. I just know that I for sure want to end up back in Hawaii, and raise my family and my kids there.”
For Asuncion, the hawaiian lifestyle is something she cannot get enough of.
“It was perfect year around, except it gets rainy during the winters. [And] you get used to seeing the beach every day.”