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Madden joins UNA Lions

When Red Bay High School Coach Donnie Roberts thinks of Darby Madden, he thinks of a girl with exceptional basketball skills and an exceptional commitment to working hard.

“There is nobody who is going to out-work Darby Madden,” Roberts said. “She knows what’s ahead, and she’s going to be prepared for it. Her work ethic is unbelievable.”

With her dedication to the game, Madden signed Monday to play college basketball at the University of North Alabama.

Roberts said he knew one thing “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” about the 2015 MVP:

“Darby’s the best post player that I have ever coached in my career,” he said. “Not only can she play with her back to the basket, she can go out on the perimeter and play like a guard … She has been an excellent three-point shooter for us and an excellent free throw shooter.” At her signing Monday, he described Madden as “the LeBron James of our team,” drawing an appreciative chuckle from everyone in attendance. Roberts also praised Madden for her strong faith.

Mom Christa Madden said basketball has been “a way of life” for her daughter.

“It’s very rewarding, knowing how hard she has worked,” Christa said. “She’s reaping the rewards of all her hard work.”

Christa said Madden immediately hit it off with Coach Missy Tiber and the entire team during a team camp and subsequent official visit. “She just felt right at home. It was just a good fit for her.”

After becoming the program’s eighth head coach in the summer of 2013, Tiber owns a 30-25 record with the Lions. With 20 years collegiate coaching experience, including 14 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Tiber owns a 231-195 career record. Tiber came to UNA after serving as the head women’s basketball coach at NCAA Division I Southern Illinois University from 2009-13. She also has 15 years of experience at the NCAA Division II level at West Liberty State College, Belmont Abbey College and Tusculum College.

“When Coach Tiber got a good look at her, I think she was sold on Darby,” Roberts said.

Madden said she is excited and nervous but most of all, “ready for the next chapter.”

“I love the game so much,” she said. “When I transferred back to Red Bay, Coach Roberts and the whole program here all have a passion for basketball, and I do too, so I fit right in. I’ve loved it ever since.”

Madden said she is excited for the faster pace of college ball and making new friends.

“When I stepped on campus at UNA, it just felt like I was home,” she said. “I love everything about it – Coach Tiber, the team there. I already know three or four girls on the team. It just felt like home. I really loved it.”

Madden plans to major in elementary education/collaborative teaching, inspired in part by the joy she has gotten from being a teacher’s aide for a kindergarten class at Red Bay. In a special gesture, the class attended her scholarship signing. “I enjoy it. I love it,” she said.