Life University (Life U) Women’s Wrestling Head Coach

“A Family Affair”

Life U Women’s Wrestling is truly a family affair. Both Ashley Flavin and her husband Christian Flavin coach the Life U Women’s Wrestling team. She is the head coach, and her husband is the Assistant Coach. Ashley Flavin has been with the University for the past six years. She is going into her seventh season as head coach. Before that, she was a volunteer assistant at Life U for two years.

Flavin moved to Georgia several years ago.  She has a master’s degree in public health and was originally looking to get her Ph.D. When she found out that Life U had a women’s wrestling team, and as a Pam Am bronze medalist, she wanted to give back to her sport by volunteering for the team.

“I never thought I could coach in college because that opportunity didn’t exist. I was only like the fifth or sixth woman to be hired as a head coach of a college program. […] when [Jayme Pendergast, Life U Athletic Director] offered me the job, I thought, I absolutely have to take it, because I never had a ‘me’ when I was wrestling. I never had a woman that I could look up to in that way. I thought about what 18-year-old, 19-year-old Ashley needed to hear? I want to be for these young women what I never had and give them that experience that I feel like I needed. It’s been amazing,” said Flavin.

“He [Christian Flavin] came on as an assistant a couple months after I was hired as head coach. So we were not married at the time, but we had coached together and did some things around Georgia. I asked if he might be interested in helping out, and he said ‘Sure,’ and then we just never let him leave.”

Flavin and her husband met when they were both helping to coach Team Georgia, a youth wrestling team throughout Georgia. They were both involved in coaching the national teams at different times but shared similar experiences, and they both lived at the Olympic Training Center when each was trying to make the Olympic wrestling teams. Unfortunately, they both suffered serious injuries, which ended their Olympic careers. The two bonded over their mutual experiences and became very good friends. From there, their relationship turned into more, and they were married on October 16, 2021.

Because of the closeness with their team, Ashley and Christian invited all 50 members of their squad to their wedding. They are expecting their first child July 20, 2023. This news, however, did not come without complications.

“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, it was almost like my body decided, OK, now you’re allowed to know, and I started getting sick immediately,” Flavin shared. “We did the genetic testing and had some things come back a little funny. And so, we had like three months where we didn’t know what was going on.”

At Nationals in March, Flavin got the call that not only was all well with their baby, but that it was going to be a baby boy. At the time of this interview, Flavin and her husband were excitedly awaiting Kit Taylor’s birth.

Flavin is a formibable force within the already highly formidable Life U Athletic Department. A recent report by The Take Down Report highlighted her ranking as the head coach for the Life U Women’s Wrestling team.

“The story that came out (Top Women’s Teams Coaches) – my husband looked at the number, and he was like, ‘Oh, actually, I don’t think that number is right. That seems low.’ So he went and recounted. It’s actually a little higher. We’re at 69 dual wins. But the dual would be the kind of a more traditional school versus the other 10 weight classes, and you score points for each different kind of win that you have.

The 69 wins got into the top, and I think we’re in the top 10. I don’t remember exactly what the number is, but it’s definitely one of those things that is a fun stat that people keep track of. When you get to your 100th win, that’s always one that’s really big,” said Flavin.

“I think for us, as we were looking at it, it was really neat to see how much success that has happened in just such a short time, because so many of the other coaches that are on there have been coaching for far longer than six years. It was exciting to see. We always think we’re doing good, making good progress and the girls are working hard, but it was really interesting to see that really laid out,” said Flavin.

In regard to her professional life, Flavin shared that she loves having Pendergast as her boss and appreciates the fact that there is another woman in a position that not many women hold. She also said that Pendergast understands “what it’s like to be the only woman in the room.” This brings a great perspective and inclusivity to athletics at Life U.

“Life U is so open and so welcoming to so many different kinds of people. Everyone can feel welcome regardless of your religion, your race, your culture or your ethnicity, or however you identify your sexual preference, it doesn’t matter. And so our athletes – they find a place; it’s like a patchwork quilt a little bit. They’re all so different, but they fit together so beautifully, and they feel like this is where they’re supposed to be. And having that is something that’s super important to me as a person, but to be able to give to them like that safe place,” said Flavin.

Flavin’s advice to others: “Don’t let other people’s expectations stop you from doing what you know you can do know what you should be doing for yourself.”

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