Walk into Ashley Fry McGill’s spa business, and you’ll instantly be absorbed in the quiet solitude that renews and reinvigorates your personal wellness. McGill and her cadre of workers are ready to provide you with the ultimate relaxation experience. Now walk back in time to the girls locker room of the 1993-1994 Republic Lady Tiger basketball team. Once again, you’ll find McGill (then Ashley Fry)–this time among a cadre of friends, all of them creating their own quiet solitude, a ritual each player owned to mentally prepare for the upcoming game.
These rituals, this internal reflection and focus, led to extensive athletic success. The 1994 Lady Tigers went 31-1 and became the first girls team in Republic’s history to win the state championship. And that’s the year McGill played starting center as a sophomore.
McGill’s athletic resume lands her among the greats in the history of Republic athletics. She was a starter in the post for three seasons. In the middle of her senior season, she was shocked when the referees stopped a home game in recognition after she dropped her 1000th point into the bucket.
“It was such a surprise. I guess everyone knew it–my coaches, my teammates, my parents, the scorekeepers, even other fans in the stands, but I was completely caught off guard.”
Her additional basketball accolades include breaking four school records: most free throws in a season, most varsity games played, highest free-throw percentage, and most points scored in a season.
She also earned All-State and All-Ozarks recognition as a senior, and she was a three-time All-COC selection.
For McGill, playing ball (including volleyball and AAU softball) was her outlet for both having fun in life and nurturing her competitive spirit. In her youth, Ashley spent her days outside playing sports with the neighborhood boys.
“I was the only girl, so I worked twice as hard to do my best at beating them, and they always treated me as ‘one of the boys.’ The Burton and Crabtree boys, and my brother Brian, had no mercy on me.
“We stayed out all day playing games–baseball, basketball…even hockey with my dad’s best canoe paddles. That wasn’t so fun after he found out, but still, the experience of growing up with these boys…shaped my athletic and competitive spirit.”
That spirit flowed over onto the court, where McGill rattles off the names of her teammates who are still, to this day, some of her best friends.
“I loved my teammates so much. The friendships formed, the laughter we had, I can only look back with joy.”
Those surrounding McGill during her tenure at Republic hold a special place in her memory. Coaches and teammates were the ones who helped drive her success, and she recalls each of them fondly.
“My teammates and I played together from third grade on,” she says. And she notes Mike McGill, today her father-in-law, was one of the first coaches to instill quality fundamentals of the game. “He always motivated us, and taught us to give more, which made us want to give more. He believed in us and, early on, instilled in us that we were and could be champions.”
She also remembers her high school coaches fondly. “Coach McQuerter and Coach Thorne knew what they were doing. They were tough on us, knew our potential, and always had high expectations.”
She recalls a time during her 9th grade year when the team failed to live up to expectations: “I’ll never forget–we were seeded number one in the Pink and White Tournament, and we lost in the first round. The next day balls were rolled out to center court and Coach McQuerter said, ‘Enjoy running around these, because you’re not touching one of them today.’ And off we went on our running journey–the step to regain our will and drive to win, which, at that time, worked quite nicely.”
The team went on to win State the following year, and then made it to the quarterfinals and sectionals in consecutive years following.
Ashley’s teammates weren’t her only supporters. Father and mother Jim and Marge Fry, and her brother Brian, were always there for her. “My parents never missed a game, and they were my biggest supporters, on and off the court,” she says.
On February 1, Marge Fry passed away from cancer, and Ashley tears up when she mentions Marge “was my biggest fan.”
Today, her husband Kevin and six-year old daughter Maggie, along with Arabella Day Spa, keep her busy.
“Maggie is on her way to being a ball player and a princess, if there is such a thing,” she says.
McGill enjoys spending her evenings passing on her competitive spirit to Maggie as she watches her on the soccer and softball fields and the basketball courts.
Her hopes for Maggie are her hopes for all young athletes.
“Keep playing. Sometimes it doesn’t always go the way you want, but you’ll learn about friendship, respect, work ethic, and patience,” she says. “Being on a team gives you a great sense of responsibility to both yourself and others.”
When it falls into place and everyone’s in sync, other young athletes might find themselves breaking records and winning state championships.
“I wish every athlete could experience that.”