Benched by COVID-19, coach audibles to writing

by Susan Peterson

Many of us were unproductive during the early months of COVID-19 quarantine; however, Ashley Hutchcraft, basketball coach of the Conway Lady Wampus Cats, utilized her rare downtime to do something creative – write and publish a book! 

“Code Talkers: The Expression of Basketball” is a 48-page book that defines and illustrates basketball terms. Its publication date is June 1, an impressive turnaround time knowing that Ashley began the process about mid-March.  

Conway Wampus Cats Coach Ashley Hutchcraft wrote a book this spring that explains basketball jargon. (Todd Owens photo)

She was motivated to write the book for two main reasons: her love of basketball and her unique relationship with her father. Ashley is the daughter of Kay and John Hutchcraft, who coached basketball at Guy-Perkins High School. Over his 42-year coaching career, his girls’ and boys’ teams won 10 state championships, including three years that Ashley helped lead her team from 2001 to 2003. John’s lengthy list of honors and awards has earned him legendary status in sports circles.  

Ashley literally grew up around basketball, and she fondly recalls how she and her dad would talk about the sport during the many hours they spent riding to games and practices. John occasionally jotted down notes about various terms they used, and he kept lists on file folders, papers and even napkins. 

When John retired and cleared out his office, many of these notes resurfaced, giving Ashley the idea for writing a book. This spring, when she had extra time on her hands, she immediately got to work.  

She began by deciding which terms would be best to include. She asked for input from about 25 fellow coaches and basketball enthusiast friends. Using this process, she reduced her list of 100 terms down to 25.  

The next step was to find the right illustrator. She recalled that when her father was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, he received a caricature done by Keith Petersen, owner of Creative Lines, Inc. in Little Rock.  She contacted him, and he enthusiastically came on board.  

She also used the expertise of Kim McPherson, a Conway author who bills herself as a “book coach” by providing assistance to others who want guidance in the self-publishing process. The two spent many hours on the phone, with Kim leading her step-by-step through Amazon’s online publishing process. According to Ashley, Amazon has a reputation to uphold and will not publish something that isn’t up to their strict formatting standards. She had to re-submit her work five times before receiving final acceptance.  

As Coach Hutchcraft, Ashley already holds many honors. While at Conway Christian she was the youngest coach to win a basketball state championship in Arkansas, the 2010 2A State Finals. She led the Conway Lady Wampus Cats to the 7A State Championship in 2014. And in 2016, she was chosen by Women’s Basketball Coaches Association as one of the top 30 coaches under 30 in women’s basketball. 

Ashley showed similar drive and determination in publishing her book. She was tenacious in putting her publishing team together, she sought input and knowledge of others and despite many frustrations, she worked tirelessly to achieve her goal.  

“Code Talkers: The Expression of Basketball” would be especially useful for basketball players, coaches and fans of the sport. One reviewer commented, “For a non-athlete mom like me, this would’ve come in handy while my daughter was playing high school ball!”  

Code Talkers is available from Amazon in digital and paperback formats.

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