Ashya Klopfenstein takes leap from JuCo to Mid-Major
Ashya Klopfenstein has finally found her footing at Robert Morris. The road to RMU for the forward has taken her all over the United States.
February 23, 2022
From Indiana to Montana to Moon Township, the road has been nothing but easy for women’s basketball forward Ashya Klopfenstein.
After a tough start to her Robert Morris career, of late, Klopfenstein has provided a strong presence in the paint for the Colonials in her first season in Moon Township. She also has been a reliable scorer for a team that has made a considerable jump this year.
Klopfenstein didn’t want to go to a four-year institution when she left for school. She tried to find her footing first.
“I didn’t play AAU, so for me, I only applied to local colleges. I couldn’t commit to a four-year [school]. A JuCo [Dawson] in Montana reached out, and I went.”
Klopfenstein ended up at Dawson Community College in Glendive, Montana, 200 miles west of Bismarck, North Dakota and a whopping 17 hours from her home in Howe, Indiana.
Her first two years were filled with success, as she averaged 13 points and shot 52 percent from the field. In her freshman season, the team went 34-23 and finished with a 19-6 record in her second season with the Buccaneers.
“One thing that I loved from my time there was my final season,” Klopfenstein said. “We loved each other, hung out all the time and we were a great team… the people, in general, made my time so special.”
Klopfenstein, who enjoyed bundles of success as a member of the Buccaneers, finished her two years at Dawson before it came time to find a new school. Joining Robert Morris, the transition was hard initially but she adjusted because of the welcoming atmosphere.
“For me, it wasn’t hard transferring,” Klopfenstein said. “The team made it so easy. They made me feel welcomed. I felt like the oddball out at first because I’m the only transfer, but I’m glad they made me feel welcome.”
Though it was a huge opportunity for her, Klopfenstein spent time making sure she made the right choice where she went.
“I didn’t know who I was playing with [at first],” she said. “I talked with my family and in prayer, I knew that this would be a big decision.”
Klopfenstein has come a long way. Her coach from JuCo was tough on their players and she believes that’s why she plays the way she does.
“My JuCo coach, I have so much respect for him. He really pushed you mentally and physically. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him.”
Klopfenstein struggled to find her footing at the beginning of her RMU career, thrust into the starting lineup and an unfamiliar situation right away. Luckily for her, the adjustment period waned after Christmas.
In the team’s first game after Christmas against Cleveland State, she scored just two points. In the 14 games since, she has averaged 10 points and 6.1 rebounds, including her first double-double at Youngstown State on January 8.
In addition, her 50.3 field goal percentage places her in the top 60 in the nation.
“For me, it all came together during Christmas break,” Klopfenstein said. “There is always an adjustment period when you move up a level, [whether it’s] high school or college, so for me, it finally all clicked.”
Her family has been a big part of her journey, as the Klopfenstein family travels to nearly every game Ashya has played this season.
For me, it wasn’t hard transferring. The team made it so easy. They made me feel welcomed. I felt like the oddball out at first because I’m the only transfer, but I’m glad they made me feel welcome.”
— Ashya Klopfenstein on joining Robert Morris
“For the last two years, they have tried to come to as many games as possible,” she said. “This year they have been to every one, and my little siblings have been such troopers. They pile in the car and go anywhere… they really are my biggest supporters.”
Klopfenstein may be new to the team, but her college expertise has been tremendous for a team that features seven freshmen.
“Every team needs leaders and I think my role has changed over the year for me,” she said. “It has to evolve. I’m the only one with experience and it has helped.”
In her words, Klopfenstein offered some advice for any JuCo player looking for a place to play and find that new home.
“For any JuCo players, stay the course. You’ll find that place where you belong and you’ll get that playing time.”
As the Colonials gear up for the playoffs, Klopfenstein looks to be a key contributor for a team hoping to make a deep run in the tournament.