Dec. 15, 2011
Ashley Schlotzhauer (Thornton) Spirit Squad, 2002-06
Schlotzhauer is the first spirit squad member to be featured in a Throwback Thursday. The Kansas City, Mo. native came to KU in 2002 and was a cheerleader during some of the Jayhawks' most exciting moments on the court and out in the field. During her time on the sidelines, the football team would make it to one bowl game, while the basketball team won 77 games and went to two final fours and an elite eight under coaches Roy Williams and Bill Self. Ultimately it was the gridiron, where Schlotzhauer would find her future as she married former KU cornerback Justin Thornton. The couple is expecting their first child in February and Schlotzhauer (Thornton) can still be found at Allen Fieldhouse, where she works in the marketing department as the director of promotions and branding.
You went to High School in the Kansas City area, what made you want to become a Jayhawk after graduation?
"I would have come to KU regardless (if I was on the Spirit Squad or not), and especially since my parents brainwashed me from an early age to be a Jayhawk. I grew up watching Paul Pierce and Jacque Vaughn, and I fell in love with the history and tradition of it all, so I just wanted to be a part of everything KU had to offer."
Looking back on your time at Kansas, what are some of your favorite memories of college life and your time on the Sprit Squad?
"I would have to say the friendships that I took away from being a part of the program. Three of the girls that I met while on the squad were in my wedding; and to this day, they are still my best friends. Overall, I would say that the friendships I took away would mean the most to me now."
What was your favorite cheer, while you were a member of the spirit squad?
"Let's go Jayhawks was probably my favorite because it's the one our fans get into the most. I was also big on trying to get our crowd at football to make a lot of noise on third downs because that is home field advantage if you can get the crowd to rock."
From a cheerleading standpoint, how did basketball and football differ?
"The crowd is way more active and vocal in Allen Fieldhouse. The football crowd was more of a challenge to get up and yelling."
Are there any specific moments or games from your Spirit Squad days that you still vividly remember?
"It wasn't a game where I was cheering in, but my two best friends from the squad and I all took a Spring Break trip to Hermosa Beach, Calif. From that trip, we were scheduled to go to New York City for the (Second Round of the 2005 NCAA Basketball Tournament). We sat in California and watched the Jayhawks get upset by Bucknell, so I think that is the thing that sticks out the most to me. It was disappointing because it was our senior year, and we had a trip to New York planned right after we were in California.
Did you ever have any close calls or falls during practice or on the sidelines during a game?
"My first basket toss I went up and did a flip but instead of going up, I went back. I ended up landing on my feet somehow, but it was about 20 yards from where I was tossed from. It could have been bad, but I was fine.
For the people who are unaware, could you explain your job for Kansas Athletics?
"My title is Director of Promotions and Branding; I come up with a lot of our bigger, group promotions. If we are going to do a "Heroes Day" at a football game, my responsibility is to coordinate those efforts. I run our Kids Club and our birthday program, so those are two pretty big responsibilities that I have. I also have a big role in our advertising agency, so I work a lot with our print ads and things associated with that."
You work in Allen Fieldhouse, so I assume it is pretty easy for you to make it to a lot of Kansas events?
"I work in the Marketing Department, so I am able to work a lot of the games, and it's really cool to just be a part of everything. It's really interesting to watch from this side of the games now, to see what goes on during a game. There is a whole different side to the games besides the play on the court."
Aside from your job in the Marketing Department, what have you been doing since you graduated from KU?
"Through cheerleading, I had a friend (former KU quarterback Jason Swanson) introduce me to Justin Thornton, who played football here, and he was on the 2008 Orange Bowl team. We got married in March, and we're expecting our first child this coming February, a baby boy; so of course that is exciting!"
Throwback Thursday Archive: http://www.kuathletics.com/throwbackthursday.html