If you throw out the name Ashli Shay in the Lebanon County area, almost any sports fan could tell you a story or have an anecdote to share.

It might be a tale about her game, a story about her competitiveness or tenacity, or her teaching life lessons to her students or her athletes in her physical education classes. It might also be a story from her time playing basketball at Penn State or her coaching accomplishments at ELCO, Cedar Crest, or elsewhere. 

If you have not heard of her, Ashli Shay (formerly Ashli Schwab) is one of the top six female basketball scorers ever in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, with a total of 2,169 points. She also played at Penn State under Rene Portland from 2002 to 2005, tallying 567 points and grabbing 530 rebounds in 117 games. 

Shay eventually returned to the area and started coaching at ELCO, initially as an assistant coach under her former coach Dave Meyer, eventually taking over the head job.

“Returning to ELCO as a teacher and coach was like a dream come true for me,” said Shay.

“ELCO will always be my home and it was a great experience to be able to give back to the community.”

The rapport that Ashli Shay develops with her players is one of her strengths as a coach. (Jeff Falk)

As a coach, she said, she was very fortunate to coach so many great athletes and great kids over the years.

“The 2018-19 group of seniors (Ryelle Shuey, Julia Nelson, Jordan Rosengrant, Kayla Gerber, and Maddie Weit) was special,” said Shay. “They showed so much amazing leadership and grit in getting us to the league championship, the District Three run, and our first win in the PIAA tournament in many years.”

Shay resigned from ELCO in February 2022 after attaining a 143-136 record, to spend more time with her kids. 

“Leaving ELCO was one of the most difficult things that I ever did,” said Shay. “I knew if I did not turn the resignation in at the end of the season, I would not be able to do it.

“My kids were into sports, and I was not always able to be there, and it was too difficult to try to perform my responsibilities as a head coach and as a parent. Stepping down allowed me to coach both of my daughters’ teams and rarely had to miss a game or practice.”

Shay said that Will Wenninger, head coach at Cedar Crest, contacted her about helping him at Cedar Crest and she initially turned him down.

“I truly had no intentions of returning to coaching at the high school level,” she said. “Will was persistent and kept asking, and he finally told me I could come on as an assistant but could leave whenever I needed to see my kids play.

“He was so supportive of me, putting my children first, which meant a lot to me and my family, so I decided to give it a shot. I enjoyed my role as an assistant and really felt a connection to the kids and the school. When the head coaching position opened up, I needed to make sure the family was OK, but it was the fact that we were all in the same district with the same schedules, that sold me.”

The family lives in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, so the opportunity to coach the girls remains a future opportunity.

“My oldest Bella is in seventh grade and plays the same days that we play, so I get to see her regularly. Addy is in sixth grade and plays for a travel team and Owen is playing in the rec program.” 

Cedar Crest is currently sitting 12th in the District Three Class AAAAAA field with a 13-9 record. The top 12 teams make the field.

Members of this season’s Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team. (Provided photo)

“We had a tough early schedule and have played the majority of our schedule already,” said Shay. “The LL-1 league is not easy – anybody can knock you off any night, so you have to be prepared.

“We have seen a lot of improvement in the energy and intensity in the past few practices so hopefully that will continue when we come out of the snow postponements. Our seniors have been outstanding in their leadership roles and we just have to take one game at a time and see what happens.”

Former player, student, and friend Ryelle Shuey, who played soccer collegiately at Lehigh, said Shay is “an amazing leader, mentor, coach, and person.”

“Some of my fondest memories were playing basketball for her at ELCO,” said Shuey. “She helps develop her players into better student-athletes but more importantly people through her action and words. Cedar Crest is lucky to have her, and I look forward to watching them have success and a bright future.”

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Support local journalism.

Cancel anytime.


🌟 Annual

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Your email address will be kept private.