UPB is proud to have two additions to our on-court staff in Ashley Hawkins and Asha Thomas, both working as coaches at the UPB team. Both bring a myriad of experiences on-the-court and in around the game of basketball, and we know they will be assets in helping the next generation grow their skills.
Ashley Hawkins: Ashley Hawkins comes to UPB from Sacramento, where she grew up playing basketball for Antelope High School, and later being inducted into their Hall of Fame. After starting her basketball journey in Northern California, she played two years of junior college basketball at Vincennes University in Indiana, before finishing out her remaining eligibility at the University of Evansville of the Missouri Valley Conference. She shot 49% from field goal range while playing for the Aces and studying Psychology. After college, she returned to the West Coast while working as a sales associate for the Los Angeles Clippers. She comes to UPB after forming a friendship with Ruta, who played at crosstown rival, University of Southern Indiana, for college ball.
“ I would always see her post about UPB and thinking that looks like a cool place to work at. The thing that stands out the most about the gym are the all athletes that come through and the energy they bring.”
In her time at UPB, she’s loved seeing players constantly in the gym, striving to be the best versions of themselves and looks forward to helping all our athletes reach their full potential.
“I also love that I get to jump in and play at moments and it’s also nice to get to be in the gym surrounded by basketball all day.
We look forward to having Ashley and her enthusiasm for the game in the gym, and can’t wait to see what she brings to the table as a coach. Later in life, she’d like to open her own training facility in Southern California.
Asha Thomas: Asha Thomas is a basketball lifer, with experience stemming from the time she turned 5. She lived and breathed competition, playing both AAU and high school basketball. She played California Ballaz and in her four years at Bishop O’Dowd, won three state championships. Upon her fantastic high school career, Thomas committed to Cal, where she started as a point guard all four years of college. Upon leaving Berkeley, she solidified her place in the record books, as the university’s all-time three-point leader, 4th in assists, and 15th in scoring. After graduating, she took to the overseas basketball scene and played a year for the Sheffield Hatters in England.
She’s been aware of the UPB brand and Packie’s dedication to training and getting better since her time at Cal. In her words,
“One thing that stands out to me about the gym is the chill vibe I get every time I enter. Even though UPB is a place where goals are invited and given & meant to be achieved, I don’t feel too bad when I “fail”. At UPB, I am encouraged that I will eventually achieve my goals regardless of feeling that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to on that particular day.”
In her time at UPB, she’s loved getting to know all of the young players who come to the gym with a positive attitude and genuine love for the game. She describes these players as being open-minded and receptive to feedback, and she can’t wait to encourage personal growth for them, while always bringing a fun spirit to the court.
Down the road, Thomas sees herself wrapping up her pro career in the next five years, and maybe even opening up her own training facility in Northern California.
Behind the creation of UPBYCF lies years of activism for both Turners and a sustained interest in bettering communities in The Bay Area. They know the statistics that six times as many low-income students drop youth sports when compared to those from high-income families because of access (Aspen Institute Project Play Initiative). They also know firsthand the power sports has to build character because “a survey of 400 female corporate executives found 94% played a sport and that 61% say sports contributed to their career success (EY Women Athletes Business Network/espnW, 2014). The launch of UPBYCF is bounded in these statistics and in past experiences both Turners have had with nonprofits such as The Boys and Girls Club, Big Homie Project, and Play MakeHers. Yearly clinics at UPB have focused on women’s empowerment, and tackled issues like access to sports, and hunger.