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Once a Red Hawk, Always a Red Hawk

by Evelyn Lavitola

At one point in Alex McKinnon’s life, playing college basketball did not even cross her mind. Fast forward a few years and she is now captain of the Montclair State University women’s basketball team and has been an essential part of it since stepping foot in Panzer gym.

McKinnon started playing basketball as soon as she could, joining her first recreational team at just five years old. She continued playing whenever and wherever it was available to her, playing competitively in middle school and high school.

In high school, McKinnon also played on a very successful volleyball team, but when it came down to it there was no doubt that if she played a sport in college it would be basketball.

It was not until the end of her sophomore year in high school that McKinnon started seriously thinking about playing basketball in college when she saw that other players on her team were showing interest in college basketball.

After a basketball event, Coach Karin Harvey, the Montclair State head women’s basketball coach, reached out to McKinnon. The rest is history.

“I’m from Connecticut, so I never heard of Montclair State before,” McKinnon said. “I started to look to play basketball in college and Coach Harvey reached out to me after an event and started the recruiting process from there.”

McKinnon talked about how visiting Montclair State was when she realized she was where she was supposed to be.

“Just when I saw what Montclair State was, how successful the program was and all the different parts and aspects of the school, and then coming to visit it, I realized it was somewhere I could really see myself,” McKinnon said.

It has been evident since McKinnon’s freshman year at Montclair State that she has been a perfect fit for the program.


McKinnon plays defense during a game against Kean University.
Chris Krusberg | The Montclarion

Her freshman year she was named New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie of the Week and played in almost every game. McKinnon’s great start continued to skyrocket as she played every game in her sophomore year.

Her junior year she was selected to the All NJAC Second team and led the team with a scoring average of 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Entering her senior year as a Montclair State player, McKinnon has continued to show her importance and value to the team, already having a 22-point-high game early in the season.

Behind her success lies hard work, 14 other amazing players and a phenomenal coaching staff. McKinnon’s favorite part about basketball is no doubt her team.

“I absolutely love being a part of the team,” McKinnon said. “I love all the girls, getting to know them as people off the court, as well as players on the court, has just been a great experience. I’ve met so many great people in my four years because of basketball.”

To McKinnon, basketball is much more than a sport and has helped her grow off the court as well. Being on the team has made her become a better communicator as they often talk about “open communication,” and has helped her become accountable in all aspects of life.

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McKinnon on her senior day with the Red Hawks.
Evelyn Lavitola | The Montclarion

As captain, McKinnon has to be a leader, and that position is building her into a better leader every day. Basketball has given her skills that she will use for the rest of her life.

What makes a great team is not only the players but also a great coach. Coach Harvey is someone who has inspired McKinnon since her beginning at Montclair State and was one of her reasons for coming here.

“We have a great relationship, it’s gotten stronger every year since I’ve been here,” McKinnon said. “She’s always looking out for the best interest in us as players, but also [looking out for our best interest as] people. We have great communication between the two of us and she’s someone I really trust.”

Like all happy stories, they all must come to an end. However, this chapter of McKinnon’s life is not over yet. She still has things she would love to accomplish with the team such as winning the NJAC, but what is most important to her is enjoying every day of her senior year, just having fun and making the best of her experience.

McKinnon has truly been an integral part of the Red Hawk family.

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