After the tragic passing of Waubonsie Valley bowler Ashley Sanchez, the DVC girls bowling teams used the conference meet to honor the memory of their friend. Learn more in this Off the Field presented by Advantage Acura.
What makes the sport of high school bowling so special are the bonds developed between teammates, and even between opponents. It is not uncommon to see bowlers on rival teams congratulate each other, cheer their opponent on or even exchange laughs and high fives in the middle of a match.
That feeling of community could be felt throughout this year’s DVC Position Night, where the six DuPage Valley Conference teams gathered to not only compete for the Conference crown, but to remember a fallen friend.
On August 3rd, 2021 16-year-old Waubonsie Valley student Ashley Sanchez and her parents were driving home following a Chicago White Sox game. Tragically, Ashley was killed in a hit and run accident, after an attempted car jacking knocked their family vehicle into a parked semitrailer. Her parents survived the crash, although her mother spent time in the hospital after serious injuries to her head and body.
Ashley was a talented student athlete, getting ready to start her junior year with the green and gold. In her freshman season, she earned a spot on the varsity bowling team and quickly proved to be one of the team’s top talents.
Throughout this season, current members of the Waubonsie team have missed the energy and humor that Ashley brought each day, but they are doing their best to keep her spirit alive.
First year Waubonsie Valley head coach, Mike Knoll was never able to coach Ashley Sanchez personally, he recognized how much she meant to her former teammates and uses her memory to inspire the team in key moments.
At the DVC Position night at Parkside Lanes in late January, Ashley’s parents, Alex and Araceli joined Waubonsie Valley and the other five DVC teams to honor a friendly face and a gifted bowler that many of them had competed alongside for several years. It’s still understandably difficult not seeing Ashley competing on the lanes with her team, but the outpouring of support from the local bowling community has been welcome to the Sanchez family.
Coach Knoll and the Warriors bowling team has appreciated getting to know the Sanchez family as the team has honored their daughter at various points throughout the season. It is clear to him to all who knew her that Ashley Sanchez was everything you could hope a student athlete would be.
It’s fitting that this celebration was held on DVC Position night, as Ashley was not just a fierce competitor, but a big fan of following of the success of other local teams as well.
By the end of the night, Metea Valley had secured the team’s fourth consecutive conference championship, but everyone in the building knew that the opportunity to celebrate a DVC bowling sister would be the lasting memory of the night.
Reporting for Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.