ENDWELL, N.Y. - When you're in high school, you begin to learn the true meaning of dedication and commitment.
For my Athlete of the Week, those words describes how she approaches basketball, school, and life.
"Fun loving. She's smiling a lot. She loves the game, very passionate about it. It's nice to have her around," said M-E girls Head Coach Richie Sebuharara.
Ashlynn McKnight and the Maine-Endwell Spartans are preparing for the upcoming Section IV playoffs.
They secured the two seed in the tournament and will take on rival Union-Endicott, looking to win sectionals for the first time since 2013.
But, with the help of McKnight, it's certainly an obtainable goal.
Ashlynn is among the top scorers for M-E, and head coach Richie Sebuharara thinks that she brings even more to the table than just shooting.
"She's very skilled on both ends of the floor. She has a lot of offensive tools, but then she also has a knack for defense and rebounding. So, someone who just has a lot of different abilities and makes her difficult to cover, but is also a reliable teammate for us."
McKnight has hopes of playing ball at the next level when the time comes around.
Sebuharara understands what it's like to play basketball at that level.
The Vestal native was a guard at UBuffalo.
He also knows how difficult it can be to commit to both sports and school, something that Ashlynn is preparing for now.
She's a member of the Key Club, dedicating her time to various volunteer work.
She is also currently taking four college-level courses with hopes of one day becoming a cardiac surgeon.
Ashlynn has a personal inspiration to follow through with that dream, her younger sister, Cassidy.
"My sister has cystic fibrosis, so I get to go to her doctor's appointments up in Syracuse. I see all of the doctors in the hospital and she's met with a couple of heart surgeons. I thought it was really interesting," said McKnight.
Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a genetic disorder that mostly affects the lungs as well as many other organs.
Ashlynn says that living with this hasn't been easy for Cassidy or their family.
"She's gone through a lot of rough times. And so, a lot of time has been spent with her, and I really hope she can get better."
But through it all, Ashlynn explained that it didn't stop her younger sister from doing what she loves.
"The thing is, she still does basketball and softball, and stuff like that. So, she's gotten through all of it."
Ashlynn and Cassidy also have two older sisters, Marissa and Mandy.
Their parents, Rob and Lisa, have been a tremendous influence on Ashlynn, and she credits them with her success both on and off the court.
McKnight has certainly shown her dedication to her school work, her family, and her sport.
As far as that sport goes, Ashlynn told me that her and the team have set the bar high this postseason.
"Definitely want to win states. I think that's really important for us. We've been beaten the last couple sectionals, and I feel like it's our year."
Let's just hope the Spartans title run holds up better than coach Seb's voice at practice.
"Go, go, go. Slide, slide, slide! Get up, get up, get up, get up."
Everyone got a good laugh out of that squeak.
M-E and U-E tip-off on Wednesday, February 28th.
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