Beth Vice has had to overcome much adversity since she left Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Ky.
The 1998 Miss Basketball for the state of Kentucky was a quick athlete who made her living driving to the basket and beating opponents off the dribble when she signed with Alabama. Four knee surgeries later, she changed her style of play to a deadly three-point shooter who finished near the top in Alabama history in three-point field goal shooting. She made 270 three-pointers in her career with the Tide, only three behind one-time Troy State assistant Betsy Harris, who hit 273.
Her ability to learn and her willingness to work hard when faced with obstacles were selling points to Troy State women's basketball coach Michael Murphy when he sought a graduate assistant for his program.
"She had to adapt her game when she was faced with those knee injuries," Murphy said. "She worked to become a great shooter – she was already a good shooter – but she worked to become a superior shooter. When you are at the top of the SEC in three-point shooting, that is amazing. In the SEC, they prepare for you and know they have to make you put the ball on the floor."
Vice and Murphy are not strangers. Murphy was an assistant at Alabama through Vice's junior season.
Vice also knows Trojan assistant Joni Crenshaw, also an Alabama alumnae. Crenshaw was Vice's roommate during her freshman season.
"When I moved to Tuscaloosa, coach Murphy and Joni helped me move in," Vice said. "It felt like that all over again when I came here."
Vice credits Murphy with the strides she made in her shooting ability.
However, she did not always view him with high regard.
"If you had told me five years ago I would be working for coach Murphy, I wouldn't have believed you," Vice said.
Murphy has been known to yell at players, and Vice said she did not understand why he spent so much of his time yelling at her during the early part of her career.
Murphy, though, said he had Vice's best intentions at heart.
"Most coaches, when they see something that is unique or different from most athletes, when they see an intangible for greatness, they tend to pay extra attention to that athlete," Murphy said. "As the old adage says, 'Don't worry when the coach yells at you, worry when he quits yelling.'"
Vice had many opportunities to end her basketball career. She has had three knee surgeries on her left knee, and one on her right. She had to be red shirted her sophomore year after blowing out her knee.
But she never even considered giving up.
"When I came to Alabama, I came to play basketball and earn my degree," Vice said. "When I finished this last year, I accomplished both of those things."
Of course, Vice could not give up on basketball very easily. Growing up in Kentucky, she developed a deep passion for the sport.
"If you grow up in Kentucky, you love basketball," Vice said. "For me, growing up in a neighborhood with all boys, it gave me a chance to fit in. Then I started being more competitive about it and wanted to be good at it."
Vice did become good at basketball. She was recruited by several schools coming out of high school, but a coaching change at the University of Kentucky kept her from signing with her state school.
The final two schools on her list were Purdue and Alabama, and after thinking about the decision for a long time, she decided to go to Alabama.
She had several opportunities to regret her decision. Alabama made only one trip to the NCAA Tournament during Vice's career, but Purdue won the National Championship during that time.
Her career did not end well either, as Alabama finished the 2002-2003 season with its first losing record since 1989.
However, Vice said she does not regret any decisions she made.
"Everything happens for a reason," she said. "I got to meet a lot of people at Alabama and it opened up a lot of opportunities for me."
One of those opportunities was the chance to play for and now coach under Murphy.
Although Vice grew up in Kentucky and was a Kentucky fan, she thinks highly of former Indiana coach Bobby Knight. She has an autographed Texas Tech media guide in her office and a pair of books on Knight.
"I like to study coaches who have a good knowledge for the game," Vice said. "I don't like everything Bobby Knight does, but he has a tremendous basketball knowledge."
Vice said Murphy's knowledge of basketball is similar to Knight's.
"Coach Murphy is the Bobby Knight of college basketball, without all the craziness," Vice said.
She said Murphy has one of the best basketball minds in the country, men's or women's.
"I want to be a coach one day, and the best place I can learn is here at Troy State under coach Murphy," Vice said.
She has not had to adjust too much to Troy. Unlike Tuscaloosa, she said Troy reminds her of her hometown.
Actually, she said Troy is bigger than Mount Sterling. She compared the enrollment of Troy State to the population of her hometown.
The best part of her move to Troy, though, is that she is still involved in the game she grew up loving, she said.
"I think part of being successful is knowing when you have to move to a different stage in your life," Vice said. "I accomplished everything I could as a player, but I still get to be involved in the game of basketball. My goal now is to be the best third-assistant in the history of Troy State."