George Sanders gets choked up talking about how proud he is of his youngest daughter, Ashley.
He remembers coaching her when she started playing basketball in fourth grade.
Fast forward to her junior season when she tore her ACL:
Eisenhower senior Ashley Sanders
"She's battled it very well," he said. "Everything she does, it has to be done meticulously. She came back as strong as she did because she wanted to succeed... She's determined."
That's what drives her; it goes beyond basketball.
"I don't think I'm sad," her father said of Ashley leaving in the fall for college. "I'm more proud of her. She's prepared."
Q: Who are your parents, siblings, what sports do you participate in, any information you think we'd find useful?
A: My parents are George and Linda Sanders. I have five siblings (two brothers and three sisters): Amy Ellis, Jason Ettinger, Nicole LaBarr, Erika Sanders, and Chris Sanders.
From ninth through 12th, I've played basketball and softball. I only played volleyball for ninth and 10th. I quit after I hurt my knee so I could focus more on basketball and softball.
Q: How young were you when you started playing basketball, and what is it about basketball you fell in love with?
A: I started playing basketball in the 4th grade. I remember being really excited because you weren't suppose to start playing until 5th grade but since they had a shortage of girls we were asked to play, too. Basketball was the most fun then, in elementary school, because all the girls in the class played. Now only two seniors are left (Brittany Hollabaugh and me) out of all the girls who used to play. Also, it wasn't as serious as if you were playing now because in 4th grade you're just learning how to play the sport. My dad was my coach then and it was a big advantage to me. He always wants me to do my best so he tells me the truth about how I'm playing and ways to get better.
Q: What is your fondest memory of playing basketball, for Eisenhower or even in your driveway?
A: Ever since I started playing varsity ball, Eisenhower has made it far in the playoffs. It was awesome to be a part of it and travel with them for all their games. Even though I didn't play, I was always there for every practice playing defense or offense trying to make the girls who did play better.
During the summer my brother gets really excited about going outside and playing basketball. It's mainly because that's when all the 3 on 3's are. So he gets together a team and they have me teach them basketball basics. It feels good to watch them use what I taught during their practices and games.
Q: I understand you missed last season with an injury - tell me how hard it was to miss time and how hard it was to come back from?
A: I've never gotten hurt during a sport. If I ever had it was something minor like cuts or bruises. That's why when I tore my ACL it came as a big shock.
I never would've guessed something like that would ever happen to me but I didn't let it get me down. I tore it the summer of my junior year which meant I'd be out that basketball season. It was hard not to play because I've never missed a season since I started in 4th grade.
Luckily, it was my junior rather than senior year. I kept busy though with my physical therapy and weightlifting. It was hard to come back because my knee wasn't use to the fast pace of basketball but the pre season summer basketball camps helped me get back into it.
Q: What is something not many people know about you that you'd be willing to share?
A: I really like reading. Most people think reading is boring but it's a chance to see other people's views on things and a way to relax. Normally, before I go to sleep, I have to be reading.
Q: What do you plan to do after high school? What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
A: After high school I'm attending Penn State Behrend for either chemistry or biology. I'm not sure what I'll do after that but I'm interested in becoming a physical therapist or maybe a pharmacist.
Q: Who is your inspiration and why?
A: My inspiration would definitely be my dad. He's my coach and fan. He constantly tells me things to fix and he's always at every game, no matter how far away, to watch me play.
Even when I don't play my best he's still proud of me for trying. When I was younger, there was nobody to coach our teams so my dad volunteered so nobody had to miss out on playing.
Q: Name three people from any point in history you would love to have dinner with, and why, and would it be at The Bucket?
A: Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin, because they had so many interesting ideas you could learn a lot from them.
Probably the other person would be Alexander the Great because I love ancient history and he's one of the most famous people for his success in conquering most of the known world.
Haha - it would be at the Bucket so I could pay for their meals and be in an atmosphere I am comfortable with.
Q: Three words that best describe you?
A: I can't think of just three words. It seems like they're more contradictions. I can be outgoing but shy, silly but serious, and agreeable but still a mind of my own.
Q: What are your goals for the season, both as a team and individually?
A: This season, our team sat down and decided our goal was to become district champs. Individually, my goal is to not just go through the motions, but to use what I've learned over the years to be a good team player. If we don't play as a team, we'll never make our team goal.
Q: Have you ever been "in the zone" when it comes to sports? Do you remember how you felt? Describe what you mean?
A: Anytime I've ever felt in the zone seemed to occur in games where we played as a team. When everyone's on the same page things just seem to run smooth and you make less mistakes. Everybody has more confidence then and good things happen.
Q: What organizations or activities are you involved in outside of basketball?
A: If I'm not playing basketball or another sport, I'm usually working because I need to make money for when I go to college.
Q: Tell me one question you think I should have asked but didn't, and then answer it.
A: Funny things that have happened during basketball?
This year we were running through our offense with defense on it and coach stopped us because he didn't think the defense was paying attention. He told us we acted distracted then got down on his hands and knees and started barking! Everyone busted out laughing. After he got back up he told us we were so distracted it looked like we all just watched someone act like a dog. Then he said that had really happened in a game he had watched before.