A Family Affair For a Cal Women's Basketball Player
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/19/2000

Jan. 19, 2000

BERKELEY - A Family Affair

By: Jennie Leander

Organic chemistry? Physics? Molecular biology?

What, you might ask, would possess one person to take such classes in college by choice and also compete at the highest level of college basketball?

In the case of Cal's Lauren Ashbaugh, a 1999 Academic All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection, the reason behind choosing to take these classes is quite simple. While many of her teammates are pursuing degrees in business and sociology, Ashbaugh is majoring in integrative biology with hopes of one day becoming a large animal veterinarian.

For the 6-2 junior forward, basketball has not always monopolized her time as it does today. Growing up on six acres in Woodinville, Wash., raising horses and competitive riding competed with basketball for her time.

"I can't remember a time when I didn't ride," said Ashbaugh. "I started playing basketball when I was in fifth grade, but I have been riding since the womb. I got my first pony when I was four, and ever since then, riding and horses have been a huge part of my life."

Ashbaugh's interest in both horses and basketball is largely tied to her family.

"I have been really lucky to grow up with parents who are both very passionate about certain things," said Ashbaugh. "For my mom, animals, and in particular horses, have always been her first love. In the case of my dad, basketball has always been a big part of his life."

Ashbaugh realizes that she is fortunate to have grown up in an environment where her ability to share her parents' interests could be nurtured.

"We have always had animals around, including dogs, cats, pigs, fish and even a llama," Ashbaugh recalled. "It was impossible not to love animals and live at my house. My mother also teaches riding lessons to young kids, which has made it possible for us to have an arena and stable of our own, where I was able to learn to ride."

The oldest of three children, Ashbaugh began competitive riding around the age of eight when she participated in show jumping competitions. In fact, her interest in riding was serious enough for her to actually leave the game of basketball for a year to concentrate on horses.

"For a long time horses came first," said Ashbaugh. "I actually did not play basketball in seventh grade because I was really into riding. It wasn't until later in junior high that I began to take basketball more seriously."

Just as it would seem inevitable that Ashbaugh would take to horses, given her mom's interest, it is also not surprising that her dad's love of basketball would also rub off on the Cal junior. After leading Cal in rebounding with 6.2 rpg last season, she leads the team and is ranked seventh in the conference at 7.0 rpg this year following the non-conference schedule. A two year starter, Ashbaugh is known for her strong inside presence but has emerged as a three-point shooting threat this season, converting on 60 percent (6-of-10) of her attempts heading into the Pac-10 season.

Ashbaugh's father, Brian, played basketball at Northwestern, professionally in Finland, and now devotes much of his time to coaching and following his two daughters' and son's basketball careers. Prior to high school, Ashbaugh's dad had coached every basketball team she had ever played on.

Her father's interest in basketball has extended to Lauren's younger sister, Emily, who will play next season at the University of Wisconsin.

Ashbaugh realizes how lucky she has been to share in her parents' two passions.

"When I was growing up, time spent with my mom in the barn riding and tending to horses was our time together," said Ashbaugh. "When I was playing basketball, that was time I got to spend with my dad. I think it has provided me the incredible opportunity to get to know both my parents very well individually.

"Plus basketball and riding each have taught me so many things. From riding, I have learned a lot about personal responsibility and respect, while basketball has taught me how to be a member of a team and to work with others."

Even to this day Ashbaugh cannot escape her two interests, given that it is now an annual tradition for the Cal women's basketball team to visit her house when it is in town to play the University of Washington. Considered a team-bonding experience, the Bears make the trip across Lake Washington from Seattle to Woodinville to have dinner at the Ashbaugh house and visit with their horses.

Although Ashbaugh is not as able to devote as much time to horses during her time at Cal, it's likely that, while basketball represents her present, horses will most likely occupy her future.