From shining on the volleyball and basketball courts at Grace Christian Academy of Maryland in Waldorf to now graduating with a bachelor’s in health science specializing in fitness and sport science with a minor in business marketing from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, the sky is the limit for Anastasia Allen.

Her leadership skills on the court and in the classroom have transferred now to her innate ability to adapt and overcome as she’s done time and time again over the past four years. The ball wasn’t always in her court; things didn’t always go her way, but she’s persevered and faced the obstacles head on with the support of her family and her unwavering faith in God.

At 6’ feet tall, she is proud to tell you that she’s a child of God, and of her father Russell Allen who has coached her for many years.

“I want to thank my dad. He’s one of the reason’s why I am where I am today,” Anastasia Allen said. “His love has shown through his support of me through my journey and I love him for that.”

Allen said she had so many goals after leaving high school and like millions across America, the pandemic played a role in just how she would adjust her learning style and make provisions to stay on track with her goals.

“Going into college I wanted to impact my new school like I did Grace,” Anastasia Allen said. “I wanted to dominate on the court, in the classroom, and around campus. I wanted to show my strong leadership skills that I knew I always had and I wanted to make a name for myself through my new school.”

Allen said one wake-up call was facing the realization that “you can’t slack off in the classroom”.

“My academic life has always been strong, but you can’t slack off in the classroom because that affects everything, including the athletic career, so it’s very important to stay on top of that.”

“What kept me grounded and focused was first to include God in our daily prayer,” she said. “He allowed me to stay focused on what I needed to stay focused on and remove the distractions. Just being around like-minded individuals as far as my teammates to keep me going and push me to the goals that we all had, either individually or as a team.”

Allen said making personal connections at the smaller university was very important.

“Washington Adventist University is very small, however, that’s not always a bad thing,” she said. “Our campus is very intimate whether it’s student to student or faculty to student.

“I can honestly say that the faculty here genuinely cares for the students. I had a great academic advisor in Dr. Denise Hinds. She really helped me through my four years here and once I transferred over to the business department, Dr. Andrea Baldwin helped me get through, making it a smooth transition however I knew that they both had my best interest in mind and wanted to see me succeed.”

Initially Allen was recruited to play basketball and her goal was to focus on just one sport. After two years of her commitment to the women’s basketball program, she still felt a strong desire to hone in on her volleyball skills.

“When the pandemic hit, I decided to change my sport and play volleyball.” Allen said.

She gained another year of eligibility due to the worldwide pandemic. She then added a minor in business marketing, and she stated she plans to enter into the field of sports administration or sports marketing.

Time management and the overall work-life balance protocol was one of the biggest adjustments she needed to make entering college.

“Although I had to have good time management in high school but college so much more is added to your plate that requires the time management skills in planning,” she stated. “The includes classes, practice and any other extracurricular activities as far as leadership or student association.”

The setter, middle blocker and right-side hitter said over time at WAU as a student-athlete she feels like she’s gained even more insight about the game (s). She took some time to assist with coaching basketball as well where she had played center and the power forward positions.

“Adding to the knowledge that I already had, I had to learn to be a better teammate to individuals that come from all different walks of life,” she said. “As a [student] coach I took off from playing basketball to just coach, which is definitely different. I got to see the court from a different perspective. I got to see things that personally as a player I didn’t see and focus on how I could improve or help my players.”

“People often say you can’t see what you’re doing while you’re doing it, which is very true, so as a coach I got to provide a perspective for the players they were on the court and allow them to have better insight.”

Head women’s basketball coach and athletic director, Jered Lyons said Allen has grown into an exceptional leader.

“In her early years she really was a sponge from those that came before her,” Lyons said. “Through the years she has learned to use her voice and lead by example. Her health journey has been remarkable and admirable. It showed her dedication to herself and to the program.”

Allen has assisted the team to a current record of 17-7 [women’s basketball] and the No. 3 seed of the Continental Athletic Conference that will be held in Lawrence, Kansas next week.  

“She will leave an incredible mark on those that follow in her footsteps,” Lyons said of Allen. “She is action oriented; she relates well with everyone. Ana will do big things in whatever she chooses to do next. I’m glad that we played a small part in her growth.”

Allen also overcame obstacles off of the court with the untimely death of her mother in 2021, which she said was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to go through. She was suddenly thrust into making lasting decisions.

“Taking the break from basketball was a really hard time, but it was a time that was necessary for me to focus on my self and on playing volleyball as well. I got to enjoy another sport that I love, but the pandemic definitely not only touched me but it was definitely a tough time for a lot of people and going to school online and not being interactive with your classmates or teachers [was tough].

“It was definitely a different style of learning that I wasn’t used to, so there was a different element of learning but I got through it.”

Allen and the Shock traveled to Midtown East Manhattan over the weekend to take on Berkeley College.

Lyons stated he’s looking forward to the CAC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament that will take place Friday, February 24 when the Shock (17-7, 5-1) take on sixth-seeded Florida National (9-10) in the quarterfinals at Haskell Indian Nations University.  

The 2023 championship tournament will be the Shock’s fifth consecutive appearance, the most in school history.

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