Ashley Watkins began the Labor Day weekend working her first job after college graduation. 

The 2017 La Conner High grad didn’t want nor need holiday time off, though, having chosen a career field where times out are a standard part of the gig. 

Watkins has started her first season as assistant director of football operations at Washington State University and was on the clock in Pullman for the Cougars’ Sept. 4 non-conference home opener with Utah State. 

Her family – Watkins’ biggest fans – made the 350-mile drive from Shelter Bay to the WSU campus for the occasion. 

“We’re in Pullman for their home opener tonight,” Watkins’ dad, Rich Watkins, told the Weekly News Saturday afternoon. “Ashley landed a pretty cool first job out of college.” 

In her new position, Watkins is tasked with providing football program information to students, staff the public as well as offering administrative support to Cougar coaches, among other responsibilities. 

A multi-sport standout at La Conner High, where she earned NW2B Volleyball Most Valuable Player honors as a senior, Watkins joined the WSU football program after having worked last year as an administrative assistant in the university’s athletics compliance office. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree in sport management with minors in business administration and hospitality business management from WSU earlier this year. 

Watkins’ initial college goal was to parlay her business studies into a career in the sports industry. That was realized in August when she was tabbed by WSU to join its football office. 

Watkins filled a variety of roles on campus in preparation for the position. She handled duties within the university’s intramural sports program and athletics marketing department for the Pac-12 TV network. 

Her work with the network involved assisting with video and sound set-up and takedown for broadcasts of collegiate women’s soccer matches. 

Watkins earned an associate degree from Skagit Valley College before attending WSU. During that time, Watkins, a La Conner Soroptimist Scholarship recipient, worked at Step Outside in La Conner. She also served as a volunteer mentor with the La Conner Young Life Club. 

Watkins’ success was lauded this week by her former La Conner schools mentors. 

“Ashley loved to compete,” recalled La Conner High head volleyball coach Suzanne Marble. “She was a dedicated student and athlete and was always looking for ways to improve.” 

Marble said that as a La Conner High senior Watkins not only was voted the NW2B league’s top volleyball player but was also selected as the Skagit Valley Herald volleyball player of the year – an award covering area schools of all student enrollment levels. 

“I’m thrilled for Ashley,” said Marble, “to be able to pursue her sport management degree in such an amazing first job.” 

Retired district administrator, teacher-coach Peg Seeling agreed. 

“I’m not surprised that Ashley has landed such a great position,” Seeling said. “She has always been very goal-oriented with a positive attitude toward her endeavors. I’m thrilled for her.” 

“It’s definitely an exciting opportunity for Ashley,” added La Conner High girls’ head basketball coach Scott Novak, who noted that Watkins played on two state tourney hoop teams and was an excellent rebounder for the Lady Braves. 

“She’s hard-working, dependable, all the things that you associate with success,” Novak said. 

All three predict more success looming ahead. 

“I’m super proud of her,” Marble said, “and look forward to hearing many more great things.”