Shellsy Ashen

Laid-back attitude is key for volleyball setter, who balances demanding athletic responsibilities with challenging marine biology major

By UO student Lili Wagner

Shellsy Ashen is playing in her senior season
for the Ducks. (Courtesy of

What does a day look like for Shellsy Ashen, setter for the No. 13 University of Oregon volleyball team? 10:00 a.m. serve and pass at Matthew Knight Arena, 11:00 a.m. review video and discuss game strategy, 12:00 p.m. class, 1:30 p.m. grab a sandwich from the Jaqua Center, 2:00 p.m. class, 3:30 p.m. run errands, 4:30 p.m. pregame meal and strategy session at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, 5:45 p.m. arrive at MKA, 6:15 p.m. begin warming up, 7:00 p.m. game time.

There isn’t much downtime in the life of a Division I student-athlete. Luckily, Ashen is a laid-back person.

“I don’t get stressed very often,” she said. “I guess it’s a good quality. I feel like in the end it’ll all work out. Day to day you just have to do the best you can.”

And she is. The ambitious senior manages to balance her athletic responsibilities with a challenging and exciting marine biology major.

“I’m from Southern California, so I’ve always loved the ocean,” Ashen said. “Senior year in high school I took a marine biology class and absolutely loved it, and figured if I could do this as a career then why not?”

Though Ashen came to the University of Oregon primarily for volleyball, it’s a happy coincidence that UO marine biology students earn an impressive degree in partnership with the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. “I don’t know how it could have been any better,” Ashen smiled. OIMB, housed in Coos Bay, requires students to spend three terms doing hands-on research and field work on the Oregon coast, which Ashen is very much looking forward to.

“I’ve heard it’s really fun, a lot of going out in boats and diving,” she said. Ashen, a certified scuba diver, loves diving with her family and is eager to explore the Oregon coast. But with her demanding volleyball schedule she hasn’t yet been able to spend time at OIMB and has instead been working towards her degree on campus in Eugene.

Ashen loves Eugene. “I wanted to get out of California, experience something new like the seasons here,” she said. “It’s so cool having an actual fall, and sometimes it snows!”

Outside of school and volleyball, Ashen spends her little free time hanging out with friends and watching shows. “Thursdays are great because Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder are all on. The whole team watches How to Get Away with Murder so we all talk about it on Fridays,” she laughed.

Ashen revealed that her dream job would be to make documentaries or work on something like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Until she’s able to spend time at OIMB in Coos Bay and realize her marine biology dreams, Ashen is enjoying her senior volleyball season. “We’ve had some losses and some setbacks, but we’ve learned from all of them,” she said. “I’m really happy with where we are right now.”