Brown senior forward Ashley Ducharme makes cards in between baskets

In between hitting the hardwood, Brown senior forward Ashley Ducharme runs a handmade card company. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

If you are a college basketball fan, it’s likely you’ve heard of Connecticut Huskies freshman phenom guard Caroline Ducharme.

Ducharme inked a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deal with ISlide, a sandal company, for a sandal featuring the quote, “When it gets hard, think about why you started.”

“My ‘why’ is my family, specifically my older sister Ashley,” Ducharme wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard to describe the impact that she’s had on me as a player and who I am as a person. There’s no one who inspires, challenges, and supports me more than she does. Will always be my favorite teammate.”

Her sister is Brown Bears senior forward Ashley Ducharme. Ashley may be the lesser-known Ducharme sister, but she is impressive in her own right.

Ashley is the Bears’ only senior, and she brings a high basketball acumen to the team. She averaged a team-leading 5.6 rebounds per game in the 2019-20 season.

She’s had a reduced role on the court this season, but she brings maturity and leadership to a young and rebuilding squad.

Growing up, Ashley, Caroline and their younger brother Reid, played multiple sports, but basketball was the sport they all really loved playing. They are the epitome of a basketball family.

Their mom, Chrissy, played basketball in college, and dad, Todd, played basketball in high school. When the siblings get together to shoot around, Chrissy and Todd happily rebound for them.

When Ashley first started playing AAU hoops, Caroline was too young to play on her team. But Caroline came to practice to observe and jumped in when she was allowed.

“We did everything together,” Ashley said.

The three Ducharme siblings played basketball in the driveway mornings before school. Ashley looks back fondly at the two years when she got to play prep basketball at Noble and Greenough School (known as “Nobles”) with Caroline, who made varsity as an eighth-grader. During Ashley’s senior year, both her siblings played basketball for Nobles.

Reid was in seventh grade at the time, and since then, he has made a name for himself and will likely be a Division I basketball player just like his sisters. He’s a junior guard at Brewster Academy, a powerhouse prep basketball program in New Hampshire with several alumni in the NBA that include the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell.

Ashley is giving Reid advice for the Division I recruiting process and even though he is being recruited by both Connecticut and Brown, Ashley is staying objective in her pearls of wisdom. She is clear to point out that the siblings were never pushed into basketball by their parents.

“We found a love for basketball in our own way,” Ashley said. “Playing together has made it more enjoyable. I look up to them and how hard they work and how hard they play. They push me in the same way that I push them. It’s awesome to do it as a family but we have our own love for the game as well.”

But Ashley’s life has created the time to cultivate her artistic talents, too.

Ashley has loved studio art, especially drawing, since she was a young child. At Nobles, she took Advanced Placement Studio Art and incorporated her artistic abilities into her senior school project. She created a website to sell the handmade cards she had been making to give to family and friends. She could not personally profit from selling the cards but recalls that she “absolutely loved doing it!”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashley filled extra time in her days with drawing and focusing on her handmade card company. Her designs became more detailed, and she drew new art for holidays, special occasions and everything in between. She built a website using Shopify for her company, Stars & Back Designs.

Ashley took a studio art class during her freshman year that was also open to the world-renowned fine arts school, Rhode Island School of Design students.

But other Brown and RISD art courses have interfered with practice times, precluding Ashley from enrolling in them. But Ashley’s found a silver lining – she can enjoy art on her own time with less pressure. She has taught herself modern calligraphy and other techniques with guidance from online tutorials. Even with classes and basketball back in full swing, Ashley runs her company from her apartment. She does it all, from creating the cards to shipping.

Basketball season take up a lot of Ashley’s time, but not enough to keep her from watching Caroline and Reid’s games online. At the beginning of the season, Chrissy and Todd created a spreadsheet to track their children’s games.

It totaled 104 games.

“Our family is constantly watching basketball,” Ashley said. “My sister has been able to watch my games, and in the game when I was hit in the mouth, Caroline texted my parents right away to ask if I was OK.”

Reid’s prep school games are broadcast through an online streaming service, so the family can watch his games as well.

Ashley hopes this won’t be her last year of college basketball. She plans to enter her name in the transfer portal and “see what options are there.”

No matter what her next step is, she says she is going to stay in sports.

“[B]asketball has been a huge part of my life,” Ashley said.