Grafton High School welcomes new athletic director

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Grafton High School welcomes new athletic director
Grafton High School’s new athletic director is Ashley Paulsen. (Photo/Courtesy)

GRAFTON – Ashley Paulsen is the new face of Grafton athletics. 

On July 6, Grafton High School announced that Paulsen would become the school’s new athletic director.

Paulsen enters the job at a time when many Grafton athletic programs are finding great success.

“For me, I love that right now we’re on this wave of all the athletic programs in Grafton thriving,” she said. “We’re really excelling. My hope is to continue on that wave.”

Paulsen was born and raised in Framingham, graduating from Framingham High School in 2009. Afterward, she attended Arizona State University, majoring in business and corporate communications. An elite-level gymnast, Paulsen was involved in athletics throughout high school and college.

After working at T.J.Maxx’s corporate office, Paulsen decided the traditional 9-to-5 desk job was not for her and decided to get more involved in athletics. She began substitute teaching and coaching gymnastics.

Eventually, Paulsen took a “leap of faith” and decided to apply to be Framingham’s assistant athletic director. For the past four years, that position gave Paulsen an inside look into managing athletics programs.  

Last July, while still working in Framingham, Paulsen bought a house in Grafton with her boyfriend and quickly fell in love with the town. 

“We [are] fully immersed in this amazing community. We definitely see our future here, and we just love everything about what this community stands for,” Paulsen told the Community Advocate. 

Just as she was settling into Grafton, the athletic director position opened up.

“I feel like sometimes all the stars just happen to fall into place. Right time, right place. The Grafton job had opened. I applied, and here we are now,” she said.

Although Paulsen hopes to have many winning seasons in the future, her primary goal is making sure each Grafton athlete feels supported and has an excellent experience. Paulsen has an “open door policy;” anyone can enter her office to chat about anything.

“At the end of the day, these four years of high school are so critical for adolescent athletes. Ensuring that all athletes have a positive experience is definitely number one for me,” she said. 

Paulsen anticipated that her first year would be “full of learning.” She said she’s not the type to “say ‘this is the way I want to do things’ and start making drastic changes,” but she’s already making an effort to learn about the athletes, coaches and the school community. 

She arrives at the high school on most weekdays at 6:45 a.m. to take videos, meet students during summer workouts, watch the youth summer camps, and prepare social media posts. 

“I’m very tech savvy, so I’ve been making Instagram highlight reels [and] all the things that kids love nowadays on social media,” she said. 

Paulsen sees athletics as a centripetal force, and she can’t wait for her first year at Grafton High School. 

“I think there’s no better feeling than Friday night going to the football game, being with all your friends, being immersed in the culture. I think it’s a great way to establish lifelong friendships and be part of your school community,” she said.

Paulsen was preceded by Kevin Anderson, who began his duties as the Ashland Public Schools athletic director on July 1. Anderson led Grafton athletics for three years prior to his departure.

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