May 25, 2011
Good things come to those who wait. That might be exactly what Oakland junior volleyball player Ashleigh Slemmer was thinking when she was informed earlier this month that she had been granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
"I was thrilled to learn that Ashleigh's medical hardship waiver was granted by The Summit League and the NCAA," said Oakland head coach Rob Beam. "She has bravely faced the challenges of her surgeries and the subsequent rehab process. It's exciting for us all to see her get this reward."
Slemmer experienced season-ending knee injuries in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, but initial compliance reviews determined that she had participated in too many matches to qualify for a redshirt season. However, upon further review, it was determined that Slemmer could apply for a medical hardship waiver to regain her lost eligibility. This time, the decision went in her favor.
"It didn't really hit me at first," said Slemmer. "I had sort of written things off in my mind. I never expected that, a year after the fact, something like this would happen. I am still not totally sure about all the specifics, but I know that coach [Rob Beam] really lobbied on my behalf."
Beam worked hard to help his player earn a complete and rewarding playing career at OU, but it was a team effort that helped Slemmer to become eligible.
"I am very appreciative of the efforts of [Compliance Coordinator] Adrian Kowal and [Associate Athletic Trainer] Sam Radel throughout this process," said Beam. "Without their perseverance and hard work this would not have been possible."
A six-foot outside hitter from Dublin, Ohio, Slemmer is a three-time Academic All-Summit League member and last season saw action in 60 total sets over the course of 27 matches. Slemmer twice posted a season-high of seven kills, first against Cornell and later in Summit League play against South Dakota State.
"Ashleigh has been an inspiration to all of us," added Beam. "I know this experience will make her an even better leader for the team."
Having completed her third season of volleyball at Oakland, Slemmer has seen the team improve from an 8-21 record in her freshman year to posting 17 wins in each of the last two seasons. In 2010, the Golden Grizzlies finished in a three-way tie for third place in The Summit League and missed the league tournament by virtue of a tiebreaker.
"Having been with the program for three years now, I can say that I have seen it improve each season," said Slemmer. "I am excited to be able to continue to try and help our team pursue our ultimate goal of a Summit League title. I think that by the time my fifth and final season comes around, I will really be able to appreciate just how far things have come."
Slemmer is grateful for the opportunity.
"This is an amazing and unexpected opportunity, " Slemmer concluded. "As our team continues to improve each season, it is a true gift to have another year to work towards that goal. I hope to be part of helping our team achieve the ultimate goal of winning The Summit League title and going to the NCAA Tournament."