By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford Lady Cougar Soccer program is 70 games old.
The program came to life under the direction of Richard Selby back in 2009 after parting from the combined Brighton Cardinal team. In that time the Lady Cougars were two-time runner ups in District 13-3A. And this past season Munford earned the championship.
There through it all was Selby’s daughter and team goalie Alex. The on-the-field leader of the Lady Cougars from day one, Alex Selby faced 1,165 shots saving 1,037.
With rate that high several colleges coaches came calling to Richard’s office and home wanting Alex to attend their school. But with academics as her main motivation, Alex selected Mississippi College to continue her playing career and pursue a degree in biochemistry.
“I’m really glad I choose soccer,” Alex said. “And I think I’m making the right decision going to Mississippi College. I think Mississippi College has the right fit for me. They have the major I want to major in and it’s a really nice envirnoment.”
Alex wants to work at the Center of Disease Control one day and be a microbiologist. She is building the foundation for academic success in college in the classrooms of Munford High School with a 4.0 grade point average and top 10 ranking.
Selby is used to balancing grades and athletics helping start the Lady Cougars Soccer program. She started playing soccer in youth leagues when she was 4.
Then Alex moved up to competitive ball in the eighth grade. The next challenge in her soccer career was being the goalie for a new team. That year with a young defense in front of her, Selby faced 380 shots saving 342.
In the Lady Cougars championship season, the veteran lineup on the field limited opponents to 239 attempts. Selby saved 213 of them.
“She just loves it,” Cheryl said about Alex’s feeling about the game. “This is just a dream come true.
“On the field the past four years, I remember all of it,” she added. “No moment sticks out. It all was just wonderful.”
Cheryl acknowledged there were some tough moments in starting a program and having her daughter in goal. But she always separated being an assistant coach from being her mother.
Richard said building a program, working with his wife, watching the Class of 2013 mature and coaching his daughter were all blessings.
“You get to coach her and be that father figure, this means a lot,” he said. “Not too many get a chance to coach their daughter through all four years of high school, to see them be able to reach their goal and play soccer in college.
“It’s hard at times coaching your daughter with the perceptions and stuff,” Richard added. “These are four years she and I will never, never forget. She, her Mom and I will one day sit back and look back years from now and say, ‘It was fun. We got to do that together for four years.’”
In those four years Alex’s peers Abby Drexler, Ruth Hull, Maggie Billings, and Maggie Johnson were by her side sweating and giving their all to help the Lady Cougars reach a championship level.
“There were six other seniors who busted their rear ends too,” Head Coach Selby noted. “And to see Alex where she’s at today, makes it worthwhile.”
Selby said a goalie is only as good as her defense and her teammates helped her reach this goal.
“I learn so much from playing this position,” she said. “You have to trust your defense and you have to play.
“All of us were so excited to win this year,” Alex added. “We were so glad we won this year. It’s really awesome and it was special that it was our senior year to get it. That made it more special.”
The Lady Cougar seniors transformed from freshmen to champs playing every game in the school’s history. Selby was counted on to be a leader because of her goalie position from day one.
“I think it will really help because it has taught me leadership throughout the team and teamwork especially building up and starting from the ground,” she said.
But the young Selby had her coaches/parents to fall back on when times got tough for her on the field.
“I’m really glad they get to be here as my coaches and my parents,” she said. “I’m glad they were there to help me through high school with this experience.”
Head Coach Selby said it was a privilege for his wife and him to be there and coach their daughter to reach her dream.
“Mississippi College is a university that is going to allow her to major in what she wants,” he said. “That was her first priority then playing soccer. Mississippi College told her if she comes there, she’s going to get to major in biochemistry.
“She’s a smart kid,” he concluded. “When you’re 17 years old, you’re not necessarily looking at the future. You’re looking at the here and now. That’s not what she’s doing. She’s looking at the future.”