SYRACUSE – Navigating all of the adventures and stresses that is the high school experience often takes a moment of sound decision. Wawasee senior Katy Ashpole found herself at a crossroads, and one more tough decision had to be made before she graduates this weekend.
Ashpole, tabbed as the 2014 Wawasee High School salutatorian for her graduating class, also sits as the No. 1 singles player for the WHS girls tennis team. Getting the job done in the classroom, Ashpole is ranked No. 2 in her class and earned the honor of speaking to her peers at this Saturday’s commencement ceremonies. Ashpole also got the job done on the tennis courts, winning both of her IHSAA tournament matches and earned a spot in the LaPorte Individual Regional, also this Saturday.
What to do, given both events take place at the same time?
“No one told me I had to go to graduation, but no one was forcing me to play at the regional, either. The decision was mine,” said Ashpole, who ultimately decided to go to graduation ceremonies. “(WHS principal Mike) Schmidt explained both sides, and told me he would fully support me in either choice I made. My heart was in the graduation. It means more to me to represent my classmates in that way.”
The decision was made Thursday morning, notifying the IHSAA of the forfeit. Ashpole had beaten Columbia City’s Rachel Flauding at the Warsaw Sectional and Whitko’s Mikayla Findley at the Culver Regional to earn the right to play in LaPorte. Ashpole reached the Culver individual bracket as the only court win during Wawasee’s 4-1 team loss to Columbia City.
Ashpole will vacate her regional position in the individual tournament by default, where she was scheduled to face Marquette Catholic junior Abigail Schmidt. Ashpole will conclude her senior season 8-11 overall. Schmidt (15-1) will play either Fairfield’s Emily Mast (22-0) or Hammond Morton’s Michaela Egrlova (12-4) in the regional final.
“I applaud and commend Katy for such a decision as her accomplishments in the classroom hold greater value,” said Wawasee tennis coach Chris Winters. “Being salutatorian of her class signifies the type of girls she is: hard working, dedicated, determined and focused. These traits in Katy were evident on the tennis court, on and off season and were at times what helped motivate her to pull out some close victories on the court. I am proud of her and feel honored to have been able to coach Katy for two years.”
While having the responsibility of being salutatorian, Ashpole also had scheduled her graduation party for Saturday, and just didn’t want to miss the opportunity that comes with the big day.
“I’m honored to represent my class,” stated Ashpole, who also noted her tennis accomplishments this year held merit. “I’ve never gotten that far as a tennis player before, and it was exciting to know I was going to regional. But it’s crazy to think about this weekend being graduation. I love my class and I feel like I just need to be with them. I wouldn’t be able to convey how I feel about my classmates by having someone else read my speech. I need to read that speech. I need my school to know how I truly feel about them.”