November 17, 2012

An injured athlete reveals a wounded soul

Maine native Ashley Marble seemed to have it all, but behind her driven personality lurked darkness and depression. Now, after a debilitating ankle dislocation, she's focused on recovery – physical and emotional.

By Mike Lowe
Staff Writer

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Ashley Marble, who excelled at college basketball and academics but struggled with depression and anorexia, aims to help others. “I want to change people’s lives,” she said.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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An X-ray of Marble’s left ankle shows the pins that stabilized the foot after surgery. During her ordeal, Marble decided she wanted to be a motivational speaker, where “you find the individual within the athlete.”

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In addition to her athletic prowess, Ashley Marble has been recognized nationally for her academic excellence. In 2007 she was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America academic all-America team.

She also received the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year, College Division, and was recognized by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

"When an ankle is dislocated like that," said Dr. Pomeroy, "the arteries and nerves are often pinched so the foot is not getting a proper blood supply. The key to saving the foot is to get it back under the leg, where it's supposed to be, and take the pressure off the blood vessels."

She had a second surgery Oct. 29 to remove the two largest pins. She is undergoing treatment from Dr. Garry Bracken, who is using a therapeutic technique called neuromuscular reeducation to bring the foot back to life.

When she arrived, he said, "we were dealing essentially with a limp foot." Now she can walk, with a limp, and stretch her toes. That's because of what Bracken does, massaging and stretching the muscles that had tightened and contracted during the injury and the surgery. He's trying to get the muscles to remember what they do.

He called her progress remarkable and added: "I hope I never see anything like that again."

Pomeroy said Marble will eventually be able to bike, swim, work out and run. She can even return to officiating. But, he said, "the only caveat to that prognosis is if she develops traumatic arthritis from this injury. And we won't know for three to five years."


Marble now calls the injury a blessing. Ten weeks of bed rest followed surgery. During that time, she decided she wanted to become a motivational speaker. She wants to implement programs in colleges or school systems where "you find the individual within the athlete."

No one ever found that in her. Her life's success had been measured by her success as an athlete.

"Once the lights went out on my career, they went out on everything for me," she said. "I was lost. Nobody said to me, 'What are you going to do after?' "

She doesn't blame anyone. It's just the way it is.

Now she has the strength to talk about her personal struggles in the hopes that others will find strength in her words, though it still isn't easy.

Tears welled in her eyes as she talked about what she can do these days.

"I can walk," she said. "I can go up stairs and down them backwards. But I can change lives and I can inspire people. And I can motivate people that no matter what they're going through, there's a reason for that. And that they're not alone."

Strengthened by the support of her boyfriend, Aaron Wilcox, and her father, Marble is content. She recently spent several days hunting in Topsfield with her father.

"She has come a long way," said Butch Marble. "It's amazed me how well she's doing. I think we've all learned that there are more things in life than hunting, fishing and basketball. It's about being happy. And that's where she is right now." 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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Additional Photos

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Marble, a former All-America basketball player at the University of Southern Maine who is recovering from a dislocated ankle, undergoes treatment Nov. 6 with Dr. Garry Bracken to help her regain use of her left foot.

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