By Jalisa Bannerman
Respectfully serving the Eastside Raiders’ organization as the team mom of flag cheer, Ashley is making her mark as an astounding volunteer. Ashley is notorious for maneuvering within unbalanced areas with only a few months under her belt. Led by her ambition to maintain a unified environment, she is always finding the inches where assistance is needed. Her unwillingness to overlook the need for support is a beloved trait.
Taking on tasks outside of being a team mom is an instinct for Ashley. She spends close to seven hours each game day helping various cheer divisions within the Raiders organization. As a former athlete with experience in track, cheer, basketball, and more, Ashley is aware that it takes so many moving parts to build unforgettable experiences for well deserving student-athletes.
When asked about the impact volunteering has on children, Ashley shared, “Sometimes just saying hi and giving a hug to a kid could make someone’s day. You never know what people are dealing with at home. And just seeing your face, seeing someone they can talk to, have a regular conversation with, or know you’re going to smile every time you see them makes a big difference in their lives. Seeing my coach every day in high school made a huge difference. I knew that I had someone to talk with. Even though the girls are five and six, they still want a mother figure no matter where they are or what they could be doing. All the girls are like my kids. I would do anything for my babies, and they call me mom. They are my bonus kids.”
Being present for weekly practices is something Ashley takes joy in. Her devotion to being present allows her to easily fill in as a sub-coach when needed. Tylene Blue, the cheer coordinator for the Eastside Raiders, shared, “Ashley has gone above the team mom duties; she has assisted in making sure the girls are presentable, giving them the confidence that is needed. Ashley also acts in the compacity of assistant cheer coach.”
Ashley’s reasoning for choosing to be a part of the Raiders is also why she loves volunteering. “The Raiders are dedicated to the girls. They put these girls first, and that’s what I love. We get out here to do it for the girls. We don’t have to, but we love seeing them smile. The girls get to come, be happy, laugh, and be with their friends. I love the way the organization treats the girls, even when it comes to discipline. It takes a village, and the Raiders are a village for these girls.”
Sound Mind Sound Body Youth League has over 1,100 volunteers who spend approximately 300 hours per year annually giving back to Metro Detroit youth. Sound Mind Sound Body’s after school program is composed of a unique curriculum that combines life skills, athleticism, and academics.