In her first year at the varsity level, La Costa Canyon girls’ basketball head coach Ashley Fleming is quick to admit she never pictured herself coaching.
“[If you had told me in high school or college, I would do this], I would say, ‘No, that’s crazy,’” Fleming said with a laugh. “I just fell into it.”
But life throws things at you sometimes.
After graduating from the University of Saint Katherine in 2020, where she was a member of the basketball team, Fleming entered the workforce as the assistant general manager at EōS Fitness. On the side, she coached kids at the youth level at an afterschool program.
Steven Hernandez, the previous La Costa Canyon girls’ varsity coach and a member at EōS Fitness, got to know Fleming during his weekly workouts.
“One day, he asked me, ‘Hey, are you interested in coaching girls’ basketball? I’m looking for a junior varsity coach,’” Fleming remembered. “I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I am.”
After two seasons coaching the junior varsity team, Fleming was announced as the varsity coach in July.
“Ashley had a good presence at the JV level,” said La Costa Canyon Athletic Director Kari DiGiulio. “She did a really good job creating a culture.”
Going into the final week of the regular season, the Mavericks are 12-12, 5-1 in league play.
“I think she is building,” DiGiulio said. “There is a lot of talent on the team. The senior class is heavy in terms of girls who have been in the program and that is always helpful for a coach.”
Five of the 12 girls on the roster are seniors: Christine Prince, Addison Flood, Clare Patrick, Keira Colestock and Skye Snider, making much of the team only a few years younger than Fleming.
“It’s a huge benefit to be one of the younger head coaches in North County,” Fleming said. “We [assistant Korina Trevizo, who graduated from USK in 2023] can relate to the girls and they can feel that. Sometimes we hop into drills and challenge them. I think it also helps with them feeling comfortable coming to talk with us about certain things; it’s not so long ago that we were where they are right now.”
Guard Keira Colestock leads the team with nearly 15 points per game. According to Fleming, though, what doesn’t show up in the stat sheet has been her biggest attribute.
Colestock has been the team’s unofficial third coach, especially in the backcourt with freshman Ali DiBenedetto.
“She’s a good player, but this year, as a senior, she has stepped in as a leader,” Fleming said. “She’s the coach on the court. She’s helping Ali out a lot. Once Kierra is gone, Ali has to take over that role. Kierra loves the grind and is a huge part of what we are trying to build.”
Senior Skye Snider’s positional versatility has also been invaluable to the team.
“That kid has been a 180 from last year,” Fleming said. “She’s a guard who has to play in the post. Skye has taken on that role very well. Anything we ask her to do, she just says, ‘Yes, coach, got it.’”
For Fleming, the most difficult adjustment to coaching varsity has been off the court.
“I didn’t think it would be as difficult coming in for my first season; it is a big step from JV,” Fleming said. “At the JV level, you just show up and coach, but as far as the admin in varsity — setting up games, being in contact with the other coaches, your AD — I thought that would be a lot easier than it was.”
“I think she is learning more about the game,” DiGiulio added. “It’s an Xs and Os game, and learning the Xs and Os is sometimes the most challenging part of being a coach. The sport is different when you go from playing it to coaching it.”
Going into the season’s final few games, Fleming is preaching self-confidence to her team.
“I’d like to see them trust themselves more,” she said. “Sometimes our girls doubt themselves and don’t realize they are as good as they really are.”
Fleming said she already considers this season a success, whatever the final record shows.
“I am super proud of this team,” she said. “It’s more than just winning. It’s about building relationships with these girls and teaching them life skills outside of basketball. I just want them to have fun and finish out our season.”