She’s one of the most acclaimed athletes to ever pass through Switzerland County High School. Her talents earned her a basketball scholarship to the University of Evansville; and her teaching career brought her home to Switzerland County. Her passion for coaching led to stints at the middle school; and six years ago she ascended to the varsity coaching position.
Last week, Ashley Chase Kitts stepped away from the game she loves, resigning the head coaching position of the Switzerland County Lady Pacers.
“It was a very hard decision, but I think when you feel something in your heart and you know in your heart that it’s right, then it makes it a lot easier,” Kitts said. “It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, but I knew in my heart that it was what was right for my family and for me; and that’s really what it comes down to.”
Specifically, Kitts is looking forward to spending more time with husband, Chris, and daughter, Presley.
“Presley’s two years old,” Kitts said. “I had her on the Saturday before the season started in 2014, and was back to coaching by that Thursday. I never really took any time off to be Presley’s mom. I just feel that in my heart it’s the right time for that. There’s a lot of things that I need to do with my family at this time. Like I said, it was a hard decision.”
Kitts leaves the Switzerland County after six years leading the varsity, and her career record stands at 70-70.
“My first year back here I coached seventh grade; and then after that year Wayne (Coach Ellegood) asked me to come up and be his assistant, because Fred (Ross) has retired,” She remembers. “It was also the year that Wayne stepped down, so I kind of just went right into it. I remember being so excited. I was just elated. I didn’t know then if I was going to do it for six seasons or 20 seasons. I wasn’t married then and I didn’t have a kid. A lot has changed in six years.”
Has the game changed at all, with regard to the time coaching takes?
“When I tell people my decision, and they’re like, ‘Oh, for your family’; I think people understand,” Kitts said. “But I think people think about the time between October and February. I’ve had to explain to a lot of people that the season’s done, and in about two weeks I start a kindergarten and first grade camp at the YMCA. Then I do our youth Spring camps, and that takes me a few weeks, and then by the time that’s done, you’re at the end of Spring Break, and coming back from that we start getting ready for the summer, and our kids who aren’t involved in other sports are coming in and we’re doing workouts with them; and then we’re playing about 20 games in the month of June. Then you get a little bit of time off in July, and then you get right back into it again. It really has changed a lot.”
Kitts said that she’s always been on a year to year basis since Presley was born; but says that she began talking with athletic director David Todd near the beginning of the season about the desire to spend more time with her family.
“We talked about this before the season started, before we ever stepped out on the floor,” she says. “I told him that I wanted to coach this year, but I wanted him to know that at the end of the year, I may not want to coach anymore. I think some people will say that it has something to do with the season, being 7-17 or whatever we were; but I’ve had those seasons a lot. Those don’t phase me, they don’t bother me; it doesn’t make me want to get out of it more.”
And juggling coaching commitments with raising a two-year old has been a family affair for the Kitts and Chase families.
“It takes a village,” Kitts said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it for six seasons if it wasn’t for all of them. Chris’s family’s great; his mom and dad help watch her. My parents. My sister. His sister and brother – everybody’s been very willing to chip in. That’s what I told my mom, ‘Everybody has raised Presley over the last two years, I feel like, but me. I’m here and I’m there. She’s definitely lived the life of a coach’s daughter.”
Now, Presley is going to get the chance to just enjoy mom.