Baylor athletes take faith, slide into the altar

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer, Video by Briana Garcia | Broadcast Reporter

Graduate student midfielder Ally Henderson-Ashkinos married former Baylor right-handed pitcher Jacob Ashkinos on July 8. The marriage was something the two of them had planned on doing for a while, but certain setbacks, and COVID-19, forced them to push it back. Henderson-Ashkinos said she didn’t expect to have to delay the wedding, nor did she think she would be back for her fifth year at Baylor playing soccer, but she believes this was the path meant for the both of them.

“For us it was funny, we never thought that we’d be coming back for a fifth year,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “It’s true, we had our wedding planned for December of 2020. Jacob would have been done for over six months from school and baseball, and I would have been just graduated. When COVID-19 hit, we actually ended up moving our wedding. It was crazy how everything happened after that because then we both got offered our fifth year back and we thought, ‘Man, this is really what God has for us right now.’ It’s one more year [for me], one more semester for Jacob of just pouring [it all] out and we weren’t done yet at Baylor.”

Even with adversity, the decision to get to where they are today was not a mistake, as they found it to be what was best. Both were given one more year to play their sport and believe that God meant for this to happen.

“We were totally fine with that,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “It was hard to move our wedding, [because] we had it planned. That was stressful and hard but at the same time, we really felt the peace of God and to have this opportunity to get to play the sport that we both love one more time.”

With all the downsides that COVID-19 brought, this season for Henderson-Ashkinos is a bright spot not only athletically, but academically too. She gets to play one more season with her teammates, all while finishing her master’s degree.

“I really love my team and love my coaches, I wasn’t ready to step away quite yet,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “I think that that was an even bigger draw for me, just the fact that I could hang around one more year and get to know freshmen who I never thought I would get to play with and just get one more chance to kind of pour it all out and serve my team and just do the best I could with another opportunity. A plus of all of that, I get to get my master’s, which I was never planning on doing. So it’s really cool, just the different doors that I feel like God has opened for both of us in our lives; Jacob also got his fifth year and got to finish his master’s. So it’s cool we are getting to do things we never really thought we’d be able to do and weren’t really in our plan if you were to ask us a year ago.”

Baylor has had similar instances in the past of marriages sprouting between their baseball and soccer programs. Henderson-Ashkinos said she found it odd, yet was glad that she and Ashkinos could continue that trend.

“It’s been funny, seeing over the years – it’s weird – baseball and soccer tend to have this strange connection where a lot of people have been married from the soccer team and baseball team,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “It was just funny that we got to join that train.”

On the athletic side of Baylor’s campus, the baseball and soccer facilities are very close to each other. Henderson-Ashkinos and Ashkinos both said that it is a factor.

“I think that has a lot to do with it honestly,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “We’re right in each other’s backyards right there and so you look over – that was really fun for us when we were both playing at Baylor – we’d be at practice at the same time and sometimes we could look over and wave at each other or do something funny. Jacob would be in the bullpen, and I’d be whistling at him from the soccer field.”

Ashkinos said that it was even a common joke throughout his baseball team.

“My coaches would always make jokes like if a foul ball was hit towards the soccer field or a home run was hit towards the soccer field they’d [say] ‘Welp, Jacob go get it. Go say hi to your girlfriend,’ and it was always a fun joke, but it was true,” Ashkinos said. “I’d be warming up, even before a game, they’d [the soccer team] have practice right before one our games and I’d hear whistling and Ally calling out to me.”

Not a lot has changed for Ashkinos in terms of his daily routine, including the jokes and fun of his relationship with Henderson-Ashkinos.

“It feels almost pretty similar to when I was in college just because [of] the schedule,” Ashkinos said. “I wake up still really early, I wake up at 5 a.m. and then I don’t see her until 8 p.m., pretty much the same as it has been the last four or five years.”

What has changed however, is the increasing support from Ashkinos towards Henderson-Ashkinos as she continues to play.

“It’s been pretty consistent on my side of things,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “But I think the biggest thing for me that’s been awesome of me playing soccer still, and being married, is having Jacob as such a strong supporter for me. It’s something I always saw in him and always knew I had in him when we were dating, but now that we’re married it’s such a deeper thing and means so much more.”

Ashkinos is now working for Northwestern Mutual as a financial advisor while Henderson-Ashkinos is in her final season with the Baylor soccer team. They head into the future of their marriage solidified, as they said they knew all along that they were going to end up marrying each other. Through their faith in God and belief in each other, they had it planned out the entire time.

“If I was still in school it would probably be a little different, but honestly we’ve known for a long time that this is what we wanted, to be married,” Ashkinos said. “It’s at a certain point [where we said]: ‘Alright let’s go do it. Put the money aside, put the jobs and all that stuff aside and just go do it.’ I feel like that’s kind of the way God intended it; get married and figure the rest out later.”