Meet Ashley McElhiney, the head coach of the Nashville Rhythm of the American Basketball Association. At 23, she's not only one of the youngest head coaches out there, she's the only woman coach of a men's professional team.
McElhiney turned 23 in July and had never coached before taking this job, but she has been much too busy with the Nashville Rhythm to worry about detractors.
"Honestly, it really doesn't matter right now," McElhiney said. "To me and my players right now, I am just the coach. As far as what everyone else says, it doesn't bother me either way. On this job or any other job, I'll know what my purpose is."
McElhiney couldn't have started much better, coaching the Rhythm to six straight wins to open the season and a 9-2 record.
Owner Sally Anthony, a singer who also has her own record label and a Web site promoting female artists, wanted to hire a woman to break down another barrier. General manager Daniel Bucher insists they found the right person for this market.
"If it was a publicity stunt, we would have done something really wacky," Bucher said.
The key to McElhiney's early success has been a 10-man team that cares more about her as a person than as a woman. The roster is stocked with players who either already knew McElhiney or had mutual friends.