Durall signs to row at Indiana University
Only a handful of athletes from Sullivan County have ever earned a scholarship offer to a Division I school.
And no one has ever been offered a full ride in the sport of women’s rowing, until now.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sullivan senior Ashley Durall signed a letter-of-intent to row at Indiana University. She is the daughter of Clint and Beth Durall.
“If you would have asked me five years ago what I would have been doing after high school, I thought it would have been playing basketball, volleyball or softball,” said Durall, who is one of the few athletes in the history of SHS to earn 12 varsity letters (four each in basketball, softball and volleyball). “There is no way that I would have ever dreamed of something like this.
“When one of my future teammates asked me if there was anything they could help me with, I said, “How do you row?”
Durall said she has been in a canoe once and kayaked once as well.
“I went over and watched them practice twice on the lake,” Durall said. “Dad and I have watched videos.
“I definitely have a lot to learn and will be practicing a lot this summer.”
Sullivan volleyball coach Sue Chagnon said she knows that rowing is all about communication, a strength of Durall.
“You have to be focused and communicate,” said Chagnon. “That is something she has done for four years.
“She has done an amazing job of playing three varsity sports and being a great student.”
Sullivan girls basketball coach Julie Meeks said that Durall is a rare kid who has achieved like few that have come before her.
“It’s not every day that a kid from Sullivan gets a D-I scholarship offer,” said Meeks, who played women’s basketball at IUPUI. “I don’t know off hand if there have been any girls in school history that have won 12 varsity letters.
“I think IU realized that Ashley is a tough kid that never backs down from a challenge. She is tough, works hard and always gives 110 percent. She has been such a great role model for Sullivan, on and off the court. I expect her to continue to do that at IU. She is going to be missed.”
Softball coach Lela Gilham echoed the thoughts of Meeks and Chagnon.
“I think this is phenomenal,” said Gilham. “She has been a leader on and off the field.
“Like everyone else, I hate to see her go, but wish her nothing but the best. I have had a great time getting to know Ashley and coach her.”
Durall said all this started last summer.
“The coaches at IU saw on Max Preps that I played three sports,” said Durall, who added that the highlight of her athletic career was beating Northview and being on the 2016 Western Indiana Conference championship volleyball team. “When they contacted me at first, I didn’t really think much about it.
“But after a little thought, I realized what a unique opportunity this was. Rowing will be year round, just like things have been here at Sullivan. I just went from volleyball to basketball to softball. In the summer, I tried to participate in open gyms and keep up with all three sports. Now, it is just going to be one sport, but I expect it will be even more demanding.”
Chagnon said that Durall has limitations, but you would never know it based on her performance.
“Ashley might not be the tallest or the fastest player,” said Chagnon, who hugged Durall at the end of the press conference saying, ‘I don’t ever want to let you go.’ “But she is the hardest working player.
“If you ask her to lift weights for 30 minutes, she does it for an hour. If practices are two hours, she wonders why they aren’t three hours. She is such a team player. She is one of those very special kids that doesn’t come along that often. She is going to be missed by everyone. As an IU alum, I am so proud of her and I will be getting over there to watch her row.”
Durall, who said her favorite sport has been the one she is currently playing, added that she is going to major in physical therapy and dietetics.
“This is still like a dream come true,” said Durall, who said she became interested in sports watching her older sister Hallie Durall play T-ball. “I feel very fortunate to have had my parents and family, teammates and coaches, which have supported me and helped to make this possible.
“I am looking forward to this new challenge and making the most of this opportunity in front of me.”
Photo by B.J. HARGIS: Sullivan senior Ashley Durall, front, center, is all smiles as she prepares to sign a letter-of-intent to attend Indiana University and compete in women's rowing. Her parents Beth and Clint Durall are also pictured in the front. Also pictured, middle, from left, are SHS softball coach Lela Gilman, principal Tara Jenkins, girls basketball coach Julie Meeks and volleyball coach Sue Chagnon; and, back, aunt Brenda Brocksmith and uncle Kent Brocksmith.