There was a time when Ashley Zimmerman was unsure if she would play college soccer. The McCracken County standout dealt with many tribulations over the course of the past few years, but it all ended up working out for her.
Zimmerman concluded a grueling recruitment process on Tuesday by signing with Murray State University, where she will join a program that has won two straight Ohio Valley Conference regular season championships.
She's always had the talent, but due to injuries and other unforeseen circumstances, Zimmerman was at times unable to show what she can bring to a program. Luckily for her, Murray State coaches Jeremy Groves and Matt Lodge kept tabs on her.
"There were many times when I doubted myself and wondered if I was good enough to play college soccer or on that level," she said. "Having the support of my parents, coaches and friends really helped me get to this point."
Coming off a junior season where she was forced to sit out most of the year with an injury, Zimmerman proved in 2016 she was still among the best players in a competitive region by totaling for 26 goals and 17 assists. She had 53 goals and 35 assists during her career.
At Murray State, she'll have the opportunity to play midfield or defense for a team full of former First Region talent, including her old McCracken teammate Kaylyn Telfair.
"It's really good to have that familiarity," she said. "Having KK and (former Calloway County star) Maddie Balmer that are there now will help me be more comfortable and acclimated."
Zimmerman said Murray State was her top choice because of its proximity to Paducah and its having a great academic program with a few majors she could choose from. Having a top-notch program under Groves was a selling point as well.
Nothing is guaranteed for Zimmerman, who hopes to carve out a role with the Racers when she begins workouts with the team in the summer.
"I love it that I will be able to come in on an established team that has been successful. I just hope I can be an integral part and be a part of their success," she said.
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Also signing at McCracken on Tuesday was baseball player Mason Vinyard for Wabash Valley College and cross country/track and field athlete Ben Hodges for Centre College.