When “Title 9” paved the way for an explosion of girls’ athletics at the college and high school levels in 1972, Ashland High School quickly came to the forefront with the athletic talents of a young lady named Darla Plice.
The Ashland Community was blessed with the opportunity to watch Darla as the pioneer of girls’ sports at both Ashland High School and Ashland University from 1971 through 1978.
In 1971-72 girls’ basketball was the only sport available to the female athlete at AHS. Darla, a sophomore, quickly gained a starting on the varsity squad. By her senior year Darla was a record setting three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track.
Darla still holds basketball records in scoring 40 points in one game and a game record setting 22 rebounds in one contest. She averaged 23.9 points per game for the Lady A’s.
The letter “MVP” were synonymous with Darla as she was the first “Most Valuable Player” for Arrow volleyball, named “MVP” in basketball and was honored as the first ever Female Athlete of the Year at Ashland High in 1974.
Darla continued her athletic talents at Ashland College as a four-year starter in volleyball, basketball and a three-year starter in softball. In basketball Lady Eagles finished third, fourth, and ninth in the nation during her freshman, sophomore, and junior years. As a senior she was selected as AIAW Small College All-American (2nd in AC womens’ history) and named “MVP” in basketball and volleyball. Darla highlighted her athletic career at Ashland College by being recognized with the “Outstanding Athlete” award and named to the Robert Brownson Student-Athlete Honor Society.
In 1978-79 Darla was assistant basketball coach at Purdue University while she completed her master’s degree. After successful year at Purdue, Darla became Ashland’s first female professional athlete by becoming a member of the St. Louis Streak Women’s Professional Basketball League.
Darla has been a dominant player in softball since graduating from Ashland College in 1979. She has played in several area and state leagues since their incept in 1979.
In 1982-83 Darla became a member of the Ashland High School faculty where she still holds a position in the Physical Education Department. She also coached basketball and softball in the early and mid-80’s for the Arrows.
When the topic of great female athletes in Ashland County is mentioned the name Darla Plice is always one of the first names in the conversation. Darla is remembered not only for her outstanding athletic talents, but her integrity, sportsmanship, humility and a “team Party” every second of every contest and every sport she participated in her career.
Nominator: Paul Dienstberger, John Feasel, and George Conklin