New McAuley girls basketball coach returns home

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After spending five years in Danville, first-year Mother McAuley girls basketball coach Ashley Luke Clanton (pictured right) wasn’t prepared for the culture shock of returning to her hometown of Chicago.

The former Waubonsie Valley and DePaul star coached the girls basketball team in Danville, her father’s hometown. Clanton’s father is B.J. Luke, the former Waubonsie football coach, who left several years ago to return to Danville as its football coach and athletic director. Before heading to Danville, Clanton served one year as an assistant coach at Loyola University. Clanton graduated from Waubonsie in 1999, a year ahead of her husband Denny Clanton, who was a soccer standout at Waubonsie and played for the Chicago Fire several years ago.

The Clantons sought a new beginning by returning to the Chicago area. Ashley was hired in June to replace Karen Ade at McAuley. Ashley joked about leaving the hometown of not only her dad, but also Danville favorite sons Dick Van Dyke and Gene Hackman. She heard a lot about those revered actors during her time there.

There was a transition period for the family after moving from Chicago to Danville first. Denny and Ashley had their second son in Danville, but yearned to return home. The timing of McAuley’s opening seemed to be perfect.

“When we came back up here was a culture shock,” Ashley said. “It was the speed of things. There is the traffic. You can still be in your car for hours.”

Clanton seems to have had an immediate impact for McAuley (12-5), which upset No. 7 Marist Jan. 8, but lost to No. 5 Trinity Thursday night to suffer its first defeat in the GCAC Red.

“Where I’m at is great,” Clanton said. “I couldn’t make it any better. I have a lucky team of girls. They work hard.”

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