VICTOR, N.Y. (WROC) — After scoring 2,400 points and winning a sectional championship in 2009 for Canandaigua, Ashley Zahn never thought she’d switch sides to her biggest rival.
“If you were to ask me years ago, ‘would you ever see yourself coaching at Victor’? I would be like ‘absolutely not,'” said Zahn.
But now, she’s in her first year as the Blue Devils girls basketball head coach, continuing her father’s coaching legacy.
“It’s an honor and I get a little nervous because it’s really big shoes to fill,” said Zahn. “But I think he’s smiling down because I don’t think he would have anyone else fill those shoes.”
Ashley’s dad Scott was a Hall of Famer as an athlete at Victor, playing football, basketball, and baseball. He then taught at the school and coached in various positions in the three sports for three decades.
Scott passed away in 2019, but not before passing down his passion for basketball, coaching, and Victor.
“I just wanted to be just like him and I saw the love that he had for Victor and I was like ‘I want to coach there.’ I love that community, the girls are awesome, and I’m really glad that he brought me and my family to Victor,” said Zahn. “And I still love Canandaigua, too.”
“I always just get memories of him every time I walk in which is great and sad at the same time,” Zahn added. “Every time I walk in here though, I just think I’m his daughter because that’s how I want it to be.”
After graduating from Canandaigua, Zahn went on to play at St. Bonaventure. She’s spent the last three years as Victor’s JV coach, taking over the team from her dad after his passing.
“He would always call me before games and be like ‘this is what I’m doing, what do you think?’ He would go watch other coaches’ practices and then tell me what he learned,” said Zahn. “So when I took over for him, I felt like I had all his old notes. I just used what he had and keep going from there, keeping his legacy alive.”
Ashley’s assistant Blake Smith also worked and coached with Scott for about ten years, calling him a mentor.
He gets déjà vu all the time working with Ashley, especially when the two talk on the phone before a practice or game.
“On the court, a lot of similarities in having our athletes prepared,” said Smith. “Off the court, very calm, really good listeners. They want to know what’s going on. They want to help in any way they can. They’re just really good coaches on the court and off the court they’re just really great people and great mentors.”
Not only did the current Varsity team already play under Ashley on JV, they also were coached by Scott when they were on modified.
Senior guard Maryn Savage said that he left a mark on every single girl in the program.
“Embrace the moment is a quote that he always shared throughout all the Victor girls,” said Savage. “I think that comes with me as well, just staying in the moment and embracing everything that comes with being on this basketball team.”
Victor and Canandaigua will play in the Scott Zahn Memorial Classic on Friday, December 23rd. The event pits the two programs that Scott coached against each other, as Scott was an assistant for the Braves when his daughters played there.
Ashley called the matchup a big one.
“I am nervous,” said Zahn. “But I know that the team is super excited and it’s always a competitive game, which is why my dad loved it. So I’m very excited for it.”
Both the girls and boys teams play that night at Finger Lakes Community College, raising money for Victor/Farmington Food Cupboard and Gleaner’s Community Kitchen.
“It is very emotional. There’s no other way to cut it up,” said Smith. “Because you do just think about her dad on that day. Her family is there supporting everybody. It’s emotional all the way around and you add competition to it, it’s a great venue and a great atmosphere.
A win for the Blue Devil girls would be the first in the event’s three-year history.