Candace Buckner: Change of plans is always difficult

Candace Buckner: Commentary

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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On Sunday, the active and amusing Twitter account belonging to Ashley Corral had gone dark. Pretty strange for someone who had no problem with sharing video of the aftermath of her bloody leg-shaving session.

Then by Sunday evening, all the silence had made sense. Corral, a former Prairie High basketball standout, had been released from the WNBA Washington Mystics.

"I'm not 100 percent sure what's coming up next," Corral admitted Thursday. "It's kind of up in the air. It's something (that) I was not expecting."

You never see the pothole in the road when your eyes are gazing at the stars. So, Corral never saw this one coming because she has only pictured herself wearing a WNBA jersey.

Corral, 23, needs no long-winded adjectives attached to her name. Vancouver should know by now about her competitiveness and skill. How she won the 2008 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year as a senior and also made the McDonald's All-American team. Or how she set state tournament records in points, 3-pointers and steals.

But if you're still wondering about her, let's make this easy: Corral is the most accomplished high school basketball player from Clark County.

And this is only the second time in Corral's long and distinguished basketball career — which includes four years at the University of Southern California — that she had been cut. The first time happened last year with the Seattle Storm, and it was that humbling moment that had pushed and possessed her to try again.

This time, she worked even harder. The dream of playing in the WNBA had meant so much to her, as I chronicled in a feature story about Corral last month.

She had devoted three months of her life to this. So, that's why when I reached out to Corral, I almost expected dead air in response to my text message.

Then, a reply came in, beginning with the words: "I'm good."

Later while on the phone, Corral would sum up her feelings this way: "I'm not bitter. It is what it is. It's a job. It's life."

The flight home from the east coast touched down on Monday, the same day that The Columbian squeezed a small blurb of 50 words on the back of the sports page about the Mystics waiving the local girl.

Corral called the training camp experience "fun" but like any job interview, she had to fight for her spot.

"There's no easy way to slide into the league," Corral said.

Since returning, she has tried to unplug herself from basketball. Which means a lot of family time. On Thursday, Corral was just returning from a road trip to Seattle with her mom to visit younger sister, Heather. Besides being in contact with her closest inner circle, she hasn't spread the word of her release.

Still, Corral said that she wants to continue playing. She just needs a team and may have to fly overseas to find one.

"It was never really in doubt," Corral said about continuing her playing career. "I'm still young. I still have years to play."

"Me not having a spot on that team doesn't mean that I want to stop playing."

At that moment, Corral seemed just as determined as she was in April when she still held confidence about her chances with the Mystics. She was sounding like the old Ashley again.

Look no further than Corral's Twitter account for further proof that she was indeed bouncing back. On Thursday, she sent out a simple thought.

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Candace Buckner is a sports reporter for The Columbian. She can be reached at 360-735-4528 or email at candace.buckner@columbian.com. Her Twitter handle is @blazerbanter.