COLUMBIA - At the end of this season, Missouri senior forward Ashley Hamblin plans to exchange her black and gold Tigers soccer uniform for a crisp, true blue police officer uniform.
For the past eight weeks, Hamblin has been taking time out of her busy schedule to spend her Tuesday nights at the Columbia Citizens' Police Academy. In a small classroom inside the downtown Columbia Police Department, Hamblin has been absorbing information about the future duties and responsibilities she will soon undertake as a woman of the law.
Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Hamblin always had the most realistic Halloween costume.
"I probably dressed up as a police officer every other year for Halloween," Hamblin said. "Both my parents are in law enforcement, so it was an easy decision. I guess I always knew I would become a police officer."
But it wasn't until her junior year at Kennedy High School that Hamblin knew she would become a Tiger. She began her collegiate soccer career in 2005, playing in all 20 games and recording six points for the season.
In her sophomore season, Hamblin led the team in points despite missing the final 10 games of the season after suffering a season-ending knee injury at Nebraska. National publications such as SoccerTimes.com and Soccer America recognized the explosive forward's talent with National Team of the Week and as National Player of the Week honors. Hamblin notched three assists playing in all 22 games of her junior year.
Now in her final season, she's back in the national spotlight. This week, Hamblin received two team of the week recognitions from Soccer America and Soccer Buzz, after her key performances a pair of Tigers victories last week.
Hamblin earned her first points of the season with two assists in MU's 6-1 win over Francis Marion on Oct. 17 at Walton Stadium. She continued her breakout weekend Oct. 19 at No. 6 Texas A&M, notching the winning goal and adding another assist in the Tigers' 3-0 upset. It was the first time Missouri has won a Sunday game on the road this year.
"I was especially pumped up for the A&M game because they are always a big rival for us, and (being a senior) I knew it was the last time I would get to play them," Hamblin said. "I played well, so getting recognized is kind of a pat on the back."
Hamblin earned her fourth assist in three games in the Tigers' 2-0 victory over Baylor on Friday at Walton Stadium leaving Missouri 6-2 in the Big 12 and third in the conference standings. Colorado leads the standings at 6-1-2, its only loss a 1-0 defeat to Missouri Oct. 3 at Walton Stadium. Texas A&M is second in the standings at 6-2-1. The Aggies lead the Tigers on points 19-18.
"It's exciting that we could win the Big 12, but we don't focus on that going into games," Hamblin said. "Every conference team, no matter their ranking, is going to be tough, so we need to focus on playing our game."
Hamblin and the Tigers host No. 10 Texas at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game is set to be broadcast nationally on ESPNU on tape delay at 4:30 p.m.