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Samford hoops standout Alex Munday strengthened, enlightened after illness


Alex Munday went from an energetic, highly-talented college athlete to young woman completely sapped of all her strength in late 2004.

Toxoplasmosis greatly weakened this former Farragut High School standout basketball player in the short run.


But the long-term effects added muscle to both her character and her perspective on basketball at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Missing most of the 2004-05 season, “I was in the hospital eight days ... I didn’t have any energy. When I was in the hospital, I could barely get from my bed to the bathroom, and it was right beside my bed,” said Munday, who has recovered well enough to average a team-leading 14.9 points per game as a redshirt sophomore post. She is considered an All-Ohio Valley Conference honoree candidate.

“It was just really hard. For a long time, they didn’t know what it was. That was frustrating, sitting there, not being able to do anything.

“I had a swollen lymph node on my neck. It was really big, it was like the size of a golf ball,” the 2003 FHS graduate added. “And I was afraid they were going to have to do surgery on that. It took about four months (to recede).”

Released from the hospital and able to join her family for Christmas 2004, Munday returned to the sidelines as a spectator in January 2005.

“I learned more about my teammates during that time,” the 21-year-old former Admiral standout post said. “I just had the time to sit and hang out with them, learning what was going on with them without being in the midst of the struggle with them.

“It just makes you realize how important basketball is to you and how much you love it.”

Samford head coach Mike Morris gave a glowing review of his 6-foot post from Farragut.

“Alex is an outstanding player and even a better person,” Morris said. “All the adversity she had to fight through last year with sickness, and came back even stronger. She’s also one of the toughest players I’ve been associated with.”

Munday also leads the team in free throw percentage (84) and rebounds per game (5.7).

“She is probably the best shooter I’ve been associated with as a player, a coach on the men’s side or even the women’s side,” Morris said. “Her ability to make shots is phenomenal. Alex is a very special player. … She’s a true warrior in terms of what she does for us on the court for our program.”

A second-team All-OVC choice in pre-season, Munday has helped Samford build a 20-7 overall record, 15-5 in the OVC regular season and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming conference tourney.

“One of the reasons our program has improved is because of Alex Munday,” Morris said. “She’s a joy to coach. Always looking to improve.”

Munday credits Giovanni Price — former FHS and Samford standout post — as being a valuable tutor on both the high school and college levels.

“The jump from middle school to high school is huge, and she was always there, encouraging me and all the people in my grade to never quit and work as hard as you can,” Munday said.

At Samford, “It was like a carry-over of that,” Munday said. “If I had a problem, I’d go ask her what she thought. We’d watch T-V and hang out.”

Munday said she’s been starting at Samford “since the second game my freshman year.”

Back then, Munday said her biggest adjustments to the college game involved yet another form of strength: plain muscle.

“It’s how strong the girls are,” she said. “In high school we don’t [lift weights] a whole lot. … If you’re not strong, you’re not lifting weights, you’re not going to make it, you’re going to get pushed around.

“It’s more of just a challenge to bang around with these girls who had been lifting weights a few years. I needed to get stronger, catch up to them.”

After two-and-one-half years in college, Munday has more than caught up.

 

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