Senior Spotlight: Ashley McCulloch
Senior Spotlight: Ashley McCulloch
By Leora Tanjuatco
Next time Virginia scores a goal, listen carefully. Underneath the cheers and the overall excitement emanating from the sea of orange and blue nylon will come the sound of a kazoo.
Like everything else at Mr. Jefferson’s University, it’s a tradition. After every goal, a father of one of the players has the crucial role of playing the kazoo and leading the parents in chants. This year as well as the past three – the responsibility falls on Mr. McCulloch’s shoulders.
“Usually a senior’s dad gets that role, but somehow, after my first year, my dad got it,” his All-American daughter, Ashley McCulloch, explained. “It’s probably because he’s loud and enjoys yelling.”
Without the guidance of her father, McCulloch wouldn’t be here today and she definitely wouldn’t have started her lacrosse career in the same way.
“In our area, girl’s lacrosse didn’t start until fifth grade, so he somehow convinced me to play boy’s lacrosse in third and fourth grade,” McCulloch recalls with a laugh. “I always look back and think, How did he get me to agree to that?!’
“I played midfield and I was decent. We still have the videotapes, too. I had one of the big, old helmets and had a ponytail coming down my back so you could tell I was a girl.”
Despite the embarrassing home lacrosse videos, McCulloch has maintained a close relationship with her father.
“He’s always been such a support system for me,” she said. He’s never been a coach of mine – though he’s coached my brothers – but he’s always been our biggest fan. He’s as emotional as I am after games; he just loves lacrosse. I’m not sure when he fell in love with it, but he’s definitely made it a huge part of his life.”
McCulloch seems to have inherited her father’s love for the game, as she made the decision to pursue lacrosse rather than soccer when she entered high school. It was in that year, in the finals of the Virginia state high school championship, that she made her first trip to Charlottesville.
“W.T. Woodson came down and played Albermarle High School in the state finals,” McCulloch remembers. “Julie [Myers] or Colleen [Shearer] was at the game and our coach told me they were watching. I was so nervous and thought, Virginia; I want to go there.’ That was when I decided to work hard so I could be here.”
Not only did she excel in lacrosse throughout the remainder of her high school career, she has rightfully earned her role as a leader while playing in the Virginia uniform. In the Cavaliers’ last outing, a 21-8 win over George Mason, she dished out her 28th assist of the season to reach the 100 assists plateau a feat accomplished by only three other Cavaliers in the program’s history.
But those numbers won’t be the ones weighing on her mind when she runs onto the field today.
“I want another shot at Northwestern,” McCulloch says, doing little to hide her competitive nature. “They’re an amazing team. We played them once my second year, in the finals of the national championship and we lost. We were so close the final score was 15-13, so we’re definitely going to be ready to play them again.”
While McCulloch’s experience makes her dangerous on the field, her previous encounters with top teams have taught her how hard she will have to work in order to pull out the win.
And as for the postseason, McCulloch knows exactly what to expect. After all, she has never dropped a game in the ACC tournament.
“There’s a little bit of pressure entering the postseason this year,” she admits. “But, I think our team enjoys that pressure, at least a little bit. We somehow always manage to come together at that time and play really good lacrosse at ACCs, so hopefully we can continue that pattern this year.”