By Morgan Bryce
Staff Reporter

Opelika’s Audrey Crowe, a senior student and basketball star at Phenix City’s Glenwood Academy, was astonished when she received word in early October that she had been nominated to be a part of the school’s homecoming court.
“I was shocked. I never dreamed or thought about being a part of something like that,” Audrey said.
A full-time student, basketball star and part-time hostess at MaFia’s Restaurant in downtown Opelika, Audrey was crowned homecoming queen during halftime of Glenwood’s homecoming game against Springwood Oct. 21, a moment she says she will never forget.
“I was thinking to myself how lucky it was for me to be a part of the court, and never dreamed I’d be queen … after they called my name I was thinking to myself how far I’ve come, from getting there and not really fitting in at all at first and then becoming homecoming queen. It’s been an incredible experience and journey,” Audrey said.
Audrey, a native of Richmond, Va., is the daughter of Brian and Wendy Crowe. Brian currently serves as the music minister at First Baptist Opelika. After growing up in Richmond and living ni Knoxville, Tenn., for a number of years, Audrey and her family came to live in Opelika in 2012.
Audrey’s interest in sports began when she was in the second grade, playing basketball and soccer through the Christian sports league Upward. She said she developed her deep passion for the game of basketball through this experience.
“Basketball, unlike cross country which is an individual sport, is about a team. The relationships you build in basketball … they last a long time,” Audrey said.
After moving to Opelika, she homeschooled for a year, joining the Auburn homeschool athletics program Ballard Christian School, playing both volleyball and basketball.
Following a successful freshman campaign at Ballard, Audrey received word from a friend that the girls basketball team at Glenwood was in dire need of a center, which was a perfect position for her because of her height and strength.
Glenwood, a triple-A classification member of the AISA (Alabama Independent School Association), plays in a stiffly competitive league, and Audrey prepared herself for playing there by participating in a summer AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) league, which draws talented players from both local public and private schools.
Joining Glenwood at the start of her sophomore year, she said adjusting to her new surroundings at first proved to be difficult.
“The time zone difference itself was a challenge … getting up at 5:30 every morning got old fast. In the beginning too, it was hard to make friends, because most of these people had been going to school all their lives together,” Audrey said.
Playing under the wildly successful Glenwood girls Coach Julie Humphries, Audrey said her game continued to grow and develop. Early in her first season, Humphries said she noticed Audrey’s talent.
“She was pretty raw when she first got here, but her AAU experience definitely helped. You could see, because of her height and natural talent, that she had plenty of upside,” Humphries said.
Carried by a senior-laden team, Glenwood won a state championship in Audrey’s first season, making her first year memorable.
“Being a part of that team was special. One of my basketball mentors and role models, Elizabeth Perdue, was on that team. She taught me how to fight and to want it … that season really helped me grow as a player,” Audrey said.
Losing key players and tempering high expectations following their championship was an added burden for Audrey and her teammates, but they handled and exceeded their own expectations, making a run to the state championship, which they ended up losing to rival Tuscaloosa Academy.
“It was devastating. But it sent a message to me and my teammates that we needed to work even harder, so we could go back and win,” Audrey said.
Her play was viewed by many as a significant reason for their second consecutive championship game appearance, and it did not go unnoticed by Humphries.
“Since she’s gotten here, she’s not only grown as a player but a person. When she first got here, she was shy and didn’t talk much, and that carried over to the court,” Humphries said. “But now, I’ve seen her rebounds and scoring increase, and on the court, her teammates now look to her as a leader.”
Audrey said that she and her teammates have been training for the upcoming season, and that she and her teammates goals are to be state champions once more.
“After we won state in my first season, the offseason was pretty chill. But since the loss last season, this is the hardest I’ve ever worked in an offseason,” Audrey said. “Going through that has really motivated us … and our goal is to definitely go back and try  to win state again this season.”
After being named a first team all-state selection by the AISA this past season, Audrey has garnered basketball scholarship offers from schools like Berry College in Atlanta and Faulkner University in Montgomery, but said she wants to be able to attend school and solely focus on academics. She is currently deciding between attending school at Auburn University, or Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and is unsure of what major she will pursue in college.
More important to Audrey than academics and athletics is her faith, and she is an active member of First Baptist Opelika. She said that faith serves as a foundation to her life.
“My faith in Jesus is everything to me. I wouldn’t know how to love people without Him, and I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far at Glenwood without Him … my faith is what has kept me going,” Audrey said.
Aside from being a homecoming queen, basketball star, restaurant hostess or academician, Audrey said she enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends or being involved at church.
Despite the uncertainty of where her next life chapter will take her, Audrey said her love continues to grow for Opelika, citing its small-town charm and feel, as well as the people as major contributors.
“I love Opelika. I love that’s it small, and you can’t go somewhere without seeing people you know,” Audrey said. “I love the sense of community that is here, and the ability to go out and do stuff and not have to worry about feeling safe. It’s a great place to be.”