Associate Head Coach • Throws
Ashley Kovacs serves as associate head coach and throws coach for the Vanderbilt women’s track and field program. The 2022–23 season is her second year with the program.
One of the nation’s most highly respected throws coaches, Kovacs has mentored a world champion, three NCAA champions, 20 All-Americans, 24 conference champions, 34 individuals who advanced to the NCAA Championships, three regional Athlete-of-the-Year honorees, eight top-three finishers at NCAAs and 10 conference championship teams. She was named an assistant coach, throws, for Team USA for the 2022 World Athletics Championships and has been named U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association regional assistant of the year several times.
In her inaugural season with the Commodores, Kovacs coached Divine Oladipo to unprecedented accomplishments in Vanderbilt program history, resetting school records in the discus and the indoor and outdoor shot put. With Kovacs’ guidance, Oladipo finished second in the shot put at the 2022 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships and garnered all-SEC honors, later earning All-America honors at the NCAA D1 Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The duo continued their success into the outdoor season, where Oladipo earned All-SEC selection after top finishes in the discus and shot put. Her success at the conference championship qualified her for the NCAA Division 1 East Region Preliminary Round in both events. Kovacs coached Oladipo to second-team All-America honors in the discus and a first-team selection in the shot put.
Kovacs also coached transfer student Veronica Fraley to an improvement from 56.70 meters to 62.30 meters, en route to qualifying for Team USA in the discus. Fraley finished 17th overall at the World Championships, the youngest athlete in the women’s discus top 20.
During the 2023 outdoor season, Kovacs mentored Fraley to the East Region title in the shot put and discus and the SEC title in the discus. At the SEC Championships, Fraley broke the school and Bernie Moore Track Stadium facility records in the discus with a 62.84-meter toss. She finished ninth in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a personal best 17.84-meter mark and earned second-team All-America honors.
At the 2023 SEC Indoor Championships, Fraley PRed four times in six throws during the shot put competition to earn a third-place finish. She is 18th in the NCAA in the event and holds the No. 2 spot on the Vanderbilt top 10 list with her 17.25-meter throw.
Kovacs also coached freshman Kosi Umerah to breaking a school record in the weight throw (19.87 meters). Umerah, the top-ranked freshman in the SEC in the event, reset the school record four times in four meets.
With Kovacs’ tutelage, graduate student Beatrice Juskeviciute finished third among all pentathletes in the shot put at the NCAA indoor championships, which helped propel her to a sixth-place finish in the pentathlon. At the SEC indoor championships, Juskeviciute finished first in the pentathlon shot put, going on to earn a silver medal in the pentathlon.
Kovacs came to Nashville after seven years at Ohio State, where she coached throws and served as recruiting coordinator. In Columbus, she mentored two national champions to three NCAA titles, as well as 15 Big Ten champions, 24 top-3 conference finishes, four conference record holders, four Big Ten Athletes of the Year and four Athlete-of-the-Meet honorees at the conference championships. During her time with the Buckeyes, she was named the 2021 Outdoor Coach of the Year for the Great Lakes Region and the 2019 USTFCCA Regional Coach of the Year.
Named regional Coach of the Year three times, Kovacs led Adelaide Aquilla, who ranks second in NCAA history in the shot put, to a pair of national titles. Kovacs also guided Sade Olatoye to the 2019 NCAA weight throw crown. Olatoye set a Big Ten record, winning ten titles in seven meets. She set career highs at the Big Ten indoor championships in the shot put (17.88 meters) and weight throw (24.07 meters). Her weight throw performance ranked third in NCAA history. In 2017, Olatoye became the first woman to win the shot put and the weight throw at a single Big Ten championship.
The Ohio State men and women’s record books are littered with Kovacs’ athletes. Nick Demaline finished his first season in Columbus with a third-place finish at the NCAA outdoor championships (19.21 meters) and a gold medal at the Big Ten outdoor championships in the shot put. All-American J.C. Murasky ranked third all-time in program history in three events and won multiple Big Ten championships during his time as a Buckeye. Carly Pendleton collected honorable mention All-America honors in the discus and Alyssa Gary earned honorable mention All-America honors as one of the top shot putters in school history.
Before her time in Columbus, Kovacs spent two seasons at Western Kentucky where she was named the 2014 USTFCCCA Southeast Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year after guiding the women’s throwers to 10 of the top 25 throwing marks in program history, including school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put, weight throw and discus. The Hilltoppers won the indoor and outdoor conference championships in 2014, as Kovacs mentored Jessica Ramsey, who became Western Kentucky’s first female student-athlete to qualify for three events at the NCAA outdoor championships. Ramsey was an All-American and seven-time conference champion.
As a graduate assistant at Murray State in 2011–12, Kovacs tutored throwers and mentored Tonia Pratt to Ohio Valley Conference championships in the weight and hammer throws. Pratt then claimed indoor and outdoor OVC Freshman of the Year awards.
A four-time All-American at Kentucky from 2006 to 2010, Kovacs was an 11-time All-SEC selection, SEC Most Valuable Player, Commissioner’s Cup winner and runner-up in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA indoor championships. Kovacs participated in the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008 and 2012 and graduated with school records in the shot put and discus.
Kovacs earned her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Kentucky in 2010 and a master’s in human development and leadership from Murray State University in 2012. She added a second master’s degree in sports coaching from Ohio State in 2017.
A native Ohioan, Kovacs is a graduate of North Canton Hoover High School (2001-05), where she was a three-time state champion and former state record holder in the shot put.
Kovacs (nee Muffet) is married to Joe Kovacs, who is a two-time world champion and won the silver medal as a member of Team USA in the shot put at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She coaches Joe, who was the 2019 world champion in the shot put. The duo claimed silver at the World Championships in a thrilling display against Ryan Crouser in 2022.
The Kovacs File
- Associate Head Coach, Vanderbilt (2021–present)
- Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator, Ohio State (2014–21)
- Assistant Coach, Western Kentucky (2012–14)
- Assistant Coach, Murray State (2011–12)
Kovacs Coaching Honors
- 2021 Outdoor Coach of the Year for the Great Lakes Region
- 2019 USTFCCCA Regional Coach of the Year
- 2014 USTFCCCA Southeast Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year
Follow coach Kovacs on social media
- Instagram: @ashleykovacsusa | @coachkovacsusa
- Twitter: @ashleykovacsusa