Ashlyn Driskill, a current graduate student in the KU School of Business’ MBA program and a member of KU Volleyball’s 2015 Final Four team, made her television debut Saturday night when House Hunters documented her and her husband’s search for a Kansas City home. She sat down with us in February for a Q&A about the experience, but after the episode premiered we asked a couple more questions about the show and got an update on the house (pictures included!).
Did they let you see the final version before it premiered?
No, they did not let us see even a scene from the episode before it aired! That’s why we were so nervous to announce the air date, we had no clue what it was going to look like.
What did you think of the final cut of the episode?
I think the final cut was great! They did a really good job of making everything look smooth and natural because it definitely did not feel like that during the filming process. They did cut clips that I was hoping would make the episode. We filmed for six full days and it’s crazy to think they were able to cut it down to 30 minutes. We would retry a scene four to five times because the crew thought it would be great, but we never got to see it!
What did your friends and family say?
All our friends and family loved the episode! Our realtor had a watch party the night it was aired and invited many of his clients. Everyone thought we were going to pick house #3, which was actually our least favorite, so I guess you could say our acting skills aren’t too bad!
How is the MBA going?
My MBA is going great. I decided to choose a focus in Management and will be graduating in December.
How did the remodeling turn out?
The remodel turned out great! It took a little longer than we initially planned and still have plenty of more things to do. Right when we closed on the house we did a whole kitchen remodel and had a full remodel of the downstairs bathroom. We did the exterior work all ourselves! It was a blast to do it, but took a lot of manual labor. We painted, made shutters, put up the privacy fence and did all new landscaping.
Knowing all that you do now, would you do it again? Is a career in TV in your future?
I think it would be fun to do it again since I know how the process goes, but I definitely don’t have a future career in TV. I’m not a fan of a camera being six inches from my face all day and I do not have the personality for it. My realtor, Brett Budke, who is also a KU alumnus, would be perfect in a career in TV!
In case you missed it, search for “Young Couple Seeks Kansas City Starter Home” on your cable provider or on demand.
Fans of the TV series Blackish were seeing double this week when KU volleyball middle blocker Zoe Hill posted pics from a birthday celebration on Twitter. Friends and fans of Yara Shahidi, who stars in the ABC sitcom Black-ish (Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m. CT) and plays a character named “Zoey,” immediately noticed the resemblance. They tagged the TV star, who was shocked herself, tweeting “If that’s not me then who is it?”
Seventeen magazine picked up on the fun, sharing the pics and making Zoe’s pics a viral hit. The post has been liked nearly 1,000 times. The freshman sport management major has been a good sport about all of the attention, admitting she’s shy when it comes to posing.
“It was really hard for me to take pictures, so the whole time, I was laughing,” she told Seventeen. Her mom kept snapping anyway, determined to share Zoe’s self-described “goofy” smile with the world.
Meantime, the Houston native is preparing for another successful season with the defending Big 12 champion Jayhawks, so the attention doesn’t bother her a bit. After all, she’s used to getting noticed at the net.
“Out of the 16 or 17 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen so many people in the waiting room waiting to hear a word about how the patient was doing,” said Dr. Emmanuel Daon, thoracic and cardiac surgeon with the University of Kansas Health System. “Not even close.”
Dr. Daon was talking about the friends and supporters of Dr. Scott Ward, d’91, g’94, g’96, better known as “Scooter” to those he counts as friends, and if you’ve ever met him, you’re a friend.
“What it tells me is that this is somebody who’s special.”
In October, Ward suffered an aortic dissection requiring emergency heart surgery. The procedure was needed to repair a partial rupture in Ward’s aorta, the largest blood vessel in the human body. Ward, who was already paralyzed from neck down since breaking his neck in 1986, faced long odds, including a survival rate under 10%. But he had something else working in his favor: an army of supporters, led by his superhero wife, Robin, g’03.
“They can tell you what the odds are,” she said. “They can tell you how bad this is. They don’t know Scooter.”
Family, friends and former student-athletes descended on KU Med from all over the country and took over the waiting room. There they held vigil for Scooter, sharing updates via text, Twitter and Facebook, and soon after a movement was born. With KU volleyball still in season, and men’s basketball getting underway, the rallying cry #rootforscoot took over social media.
“That initial support was so amazing that I don’t think there was any other choice than to survive,” Ward remembers.
Incredibly, Ward survived the initial surgery and was on his way to recovery when he suffered another aortic tear and a more perilous prognosis. A second surgery would be needed, and the success rate, according to Dr. Daon, was more like one-in-a-million. Scooter remembered taking a deep breath before adding his trademark lighthearted humor and hopeful optimism.
“Quoting a bad movie, I said ‘so we have a chance,'” he recalled in a recent interview, just months after surviving a second, life-saving heart surgery.
A heartfelt tribute
February is heart health awareness month, and our friends at Charlie Hustle are helping raise awareness and funds to support the American Heart Association in Kansas City. Charlie Hustle’s chief marketing officer, Katie Martincich, b’10, d’10, g’13, also played volleyball for KU and worked alongside Scooter as an academic and career counselor for Kansas Athletics, so she helped the Kansas City company connect with the Wards to share their story.
Scooter’s journey, told in this video below and posted on the Charlie Hustle Facebook page, is a touching tribute to a Jayhawk so beloved, you can’t help but root for him.
Former KU volleyball star ends epic year getting picked for HGTV show
2016 will indeed be tough to top for Ashlyn Driskill. The former KU volleyball player started the year having just helped the Jayhawks reach their first Final Four in program history. She followed that up by getting engaged and buying her first house with fiance Foster Vielock. To top it off, the happy couple was selected to appear on HGTV’s House Hunters, set to air later this year. Ashlyn agreed to share her story with KU alumni.
How were you picked for the show?
My fiancé and I actually applied for House Hunters because our realtor was on an episode about 5 years ago. They had told him that they really enjoyed him and would love to have him on the show again. He thought we would have a good shot at making the show due to our sports backgrounds and age. (Editor’s note: The couple’s realtor was also a Jayhawk, Brett Budke, c’05. Driskill began her volleyball career playing at Wichita State before graduating in 2015 and completing her eligibility at KU. Her fiance, Foster Vielock was a pitcher for the Shockers’ baseball team from 2011-2014.)
Later that night I signed us up, and the next morning we received an email saying we made the first cut. We needed to fill out some paper work to see if our style of house fit what they are looking for, and after our phone interview, our HGTV interviewer told us that she really enjoyed us. The final step was to make a 20 minute YouTube video and answer a set of questions that she provided. Less than a week after posting the video, we discovered we had made it to the final 4 candidates! Shortly after that, they sent us a congratulations email with all the filming information and dates!
What was the experience like?
The experience was honestly much better than I was expecting. A camera man, producer, sound guy, and producer’s assistant were they only four people they sent for the filming, and they were very laid back and fun. Their personality made it so that we weren’t as nervous as we thought we were going to be.
We filmed the house we had already closed on during the first day, followed by our current living situation and couple interview the next day. A lot of the interview questions were very similar to the YouTube video questions. We also had to restate our answers in various way to allow the editors to “give us the personality” that will fit with the episode. As for the looking at the house portion, it was a blast! We had to film our comments in each room approximately five times the same exact way so the camera man could get a ton of different angles to look like there were multiple cameras filming. They planned to come back late January to film us looking at two other houses, as well as the renovations we have done with our house.
Any memorable moments or surprises?
For surprises, it would probably have to be how many times we had to film doing the same exact thing so it would appear like there were multiple cameras. Also, we had to get approval from Foster’s mom’s neighborhood to film at her house since that’s where we are living until the renovations are done. The HOA president is also the owner of KC Home and Style magazine, so she is putting us on the cover of her magazine once we are finished with all our renovations and talking about the HGTV experience.
One memorable moment was when they had to refilm us driving up to our house and talking about the details of the house outside because it started snowing heavily while we were looking at the inside of the house. The producer thought it would look weird if it had looked sunny when we were outside, then suddenly have it snowing when filming near windows.
What are you doing now?
Currently, I am working at KU Med in the In-Patient Pharmacy and finishing up my Master’s in Business Administration. I will be applying to medical and pharmacy school in the summer. My fiancé is an Account Executive for Canon Solutions.
We actually just got engaged right before Christmas. He just informed me that he told HGTV that he was going to ask me to marry him and get me another puppy before they came back for their second round of filming, so I feel like that had some pull in us getting picked.
And how’s the house?
We are currently doing a complete kitchen remodel, a complete bathroom remodel, and we put 30 can lights in the entire house. We ran into a lot of issues when we took down a wall in the kitchen to make it more open so that slowed down the process a lot. In the spring, we are putting up a privacy fence for our dog, painting the house, and doing a complete remodel of the master bathroom. We’ll have plenty of pictures of the before and after!
We can’t wait to see them! We’ll look out for your episode of House Hunters, set to air this summer, and we’ll let alumni know when to watch. Meantime, congratulations, Ashlyn and Foster, on your new home AND your engagement! HGTV couldn’t have found a cuter couple.