God. USA. Sports. These three things say a lot about fierce competitor and devoted follower of Christ, Ashley Van Ryn. While a GAC student, Ashley competed in volleyball, basketball, track, and softball. After graduating in 2004, Ashley attended the University of Central Florida on a softball scholarship. Remarkably, today Ashley is an accomplished member of the USA Women’s National Team for the sport of handball.
She said, “Growing up, I cannot remember not having a ball in my hand… but handball was not that ball!” Ashley first learned about the sport of handball while watching the 2012 London Olympics. When the handball competitions began, Ashley became curious and did some research, discovering that there was a clear need for additional highlevel players in the US. That is where her journey to Team USA handball competitor began. For the past eight years, Ashley has fully invested herself in the sport, competing in over 100 international matches.
In 2016, Ashley took a year off to move closer to family, focus on her career, and undergo two major surgeries after injuries. Although it looked like her handball career may be behind her, she felt strong and healthy enough to compete in beach handball, which gave her a faster recovery time than indoor handball. In 2018, she competed in the World Championship game in Kazan, Russia as team Captain. Their team was ranked #14 in the world, winning the first gold medal for their women’s division since 2004. The championship games were supposed to take place in the summer of 2020, but that was cancelled due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We hope for the best in 2021 and years to come for Ashley, a strong Christian, a talented athlete, and a natural leader.