Madison Munro might have been born in Hinton, Alta., and raised in Truro, N.S., but she is a Caper at heart. At just 23 years old, Munro has already raised expectations of sport in our community in her trailblazing role as the CBU Capers men’s basketball assistant coach. She was the 2019-2020 season’s only woman in a coaching role in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s league, but that isn’t her only accomplishment: Munro has been making an impact in sport since she first picked up the ball.
Growing up, Munro was a multisport athlete who won a national gold medal in javelin and competed in fastpitch, but her first love was always basketball.
Munro played high school ball for Truro’s Cobequid Educational Centre. At CEC, Munro’s high school coach honed-in on “getting-to-know-you” team-building, which she said inspired her to continue in sport when she moved on to university.
Enter Fabian MacKenzie, who recruited Munro to wear orange and represent Cape Breton University. “He pushes you to your wit’s end, but he gives a lot in return if you put forth that hard work and effort,” Munro said. In her five years playing for the team, Munro proved to be key to the Capers’ success.
Despite the Capers fostering a strong team dynamic, university-level sport requires an inevitable fight for floor time amongst teammates. This was initially a difficult pill for Munro to swallow, who wasn’t a regular starter. However, she soon learned that her contributions to the team during competition and training were just as valuable as having a regular starting slot. A pivotal conversation with her coach helped her see how her energy and effort in practice were a catalyst to boost the overall effort put in by the team.
“I was there to push those people in practice so that we could achieve our goal of winning an AUS title,” Munro said.
Learning to see her contributions in context transformed the way Munro played the game.
“I was very internal and that affected my basketball play, it basically affected everything. It wasn’t until my third year that we had a conversation and built a partnership that helped me get out of my own head,” she said. “I looked at it the wrong way… I needed to see the team goal at hand rather than my own.”
It was that year that the CBU women’s basketball team took home the AUS championship banner.
After completing her role as an athlete for the women’s team, Munro started her coaching career with the men’s side. As the Capers’ newest assistant coach, Munro had been paying it forward by using her past experiences and interactions with her coaches to form her own coaching philosophy. Building relationships with the players and making sure they understand their roles on the team was at the top of Munro’s to-do list.
“My role was to interact with the guys and be the liaison between them and the head coach. Encouraging the players was a big part of it, and making sure that everyone had the right mentality coming in,” she said.
Being the only female coach in the AUS men’s basketball league was important in itself, but to Munro, simply getting her name on the game sheet wasn’t enough. During a mid-season interview, she asserted that her role was the same as any assistant coach: to help the team win.
Paving the way for female coaches
Following the end of the 2019/2020 AUS season, Munro hung up her orange to continue pursuing career opportunities where her journey with sport was rooted—in Truro. While she will be dearly missed by the Caper community, her contributions won’t soon be forgotten.
Forget style and grace, because with her style and swag Munro has exemplified for our elite sport community not only how much a woman has to offer to men’s leagues, but as well how impactful coaches can be on their athletes in terms of developing their own coaching philosophy and style. Munro reminds us that staying active in sport throughout life can mean playing the game or coaching it.