ETOBICOKE – Former standout athlete, Ashley (Cosgrove) Hazley, is using her collegiate sports involvement and experiential learning opportunities to enhance educational supports and therapy for children who have Autism.
Hazley always knew that she wanted to work with children, and at the suggestion of her mother, she enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Guelph-Humber in 2010. As a first year student, she immediately sought out opportunities to participate in sport and to get involved while on campus. She initially registered for her program because she was interested in the internship options, but soon found out that there were so many more benefits to being a student on the Humber campus. Hazley registered for intramural sports programs in her first year, and started to build a significant resume of experiences that would help her grow and connect with others.
Hazley participated in a number of recreational sports including volleyball, dodgeball and residence gym night activities. During the 2010-2011 academic year, she was a two-sport recreational athlete, playing both extramural dodgeball and extramural volleyball. Having made a huge impact on both teams’ successful seasons, Hazley was named the Most Dedicated Player in volleyball and Rookie of the Year in dodgeball. She also spent time playing in the intramural volleyball leagues and attended a number of exclusive residence gym nights, where she played a variety of sports with other students living on campus.
It was in her second year of studies that Hazley was hired to work in the Athletics and Recreation Department as an Intramural Sports Official and Events Support Staff. With her past sports experiences and previous connections to a number of recreational programs, she became an integral part of the recreation team. When reflecting back on her time working in the department, Hazley said that “teamwork was one of the things I learned most about while working in the department.” She also suggests that the opportunities for problem solving and learning effective communication was a huge benefit. For her efforts in that first year of working, Hazley was awarded the Campus Recreation Staff Award of Excellence at the spring banquet in 2012.
For the next two years, Hazley continued to work in the department while she remained on campus for school. She held additional roles as a Residence Gym Night Supervisor and as a Front Desk and Office Assistant during that time. She also played a second season of extramural volleyball, and although she took a single season break, she returned to the dodgeball court for the 2013-2014 season. She took pride in knowing that as an athlete on a mixed-gender team, she was a valued leader and could surprise an opponent with a last minute block or a great cross-court throw.
Not only was she a great recreational athlete, but Hazley was a standout varsity athlete on Humber’s Women’s Softball team. Humber re-entered the OCAA league and quickly made an impact with Hazley starting behind the plate. She represented the Hawks three seasons, playing in 33 regular season games, and making three straight trips to the OCAA provincial championship tournament. The team took home the OCAA silver medal in their return to the league and Hazley was named as an OCAA league all-star. During the next two seasons, the team would bring home back to back OCAA gold medals. Hazley credits retired Manager of Athletics and Sports Information Director, Jim Bialek, for opening the door to so many of the opportunities that were made available during her varsity career.
In her final year of studies, Hazley accepted a placement at ErinOakKids, a centre for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), where they provided Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapy for children with Autism. After an exceptional learning experience at the centre, Hazley decided that this would be her career after university. She graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber in 2014, and registered to complete a Graduate Certificate in Autism and Behavioural Science at Niagara College.
After receiving her Graduate Certificate, Hazley began working in an educational setting as a teacher for children with Autism, and transitioned into a more specified role at a new location where she provided direct learning therapy to children who have Autism. After giving birth to her own daughter, Adalynn, in March of 2019, Hazley returned to work, but in her local school board as an Instructor Therapist. She continues to provide learning therapy to children who have Autism, while supporting their needs within the classroom setting.
Hazley and her husband, Aaron, live in Niagara Falls with their daughter and two dogs, Charlie and Webster. She stays busy playing on four softball teams in the summer and an indoor softball team during the winter. She still plays beach volleyball and competitive court volleyball, and recently had the chance to visit Europe. In the future, she hopes to travel more and to pay forward the lessons and experiences she had as a student.