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Sweet Home Oklahoma
February 13, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. -- She grew up surrounded by crimson.

The walls of her upstairs den were covered in stadium photos, school logos and pictures of the greats. When she received a scholarship to play tennis, she was finally able to don the color herself.

Except, it wasn’t the same crimson.

Instead of choosing the shade so prominently featured in her home from Alabama Crimson Tide memorabilia, freshman Morgan Chumney chose to pledge her allegiance to the Crimson and Cream of Oklahoma.

“When I came on campus here for my visit, I just had a feeling that I hadn’t felt on any of my other visits,” Morgan said. “I was such a big fan and thought that’s where I was going to end up.”

Chumney’s dad, Stu, was the one to introduce the Alabama fandom to the family. A born and raised Alabama fan, he turned their upstairs living area into “The Bama Room,” filled with tons of Crimson Tide memorabilia. The family attended many games each year, including the Alabama-Tennessee football game, annually.

Being more than 1,000 miles from Norman, Chumney did not grow up considering OU an option. Living in SEC country, it would have made perfect sense for her to attend one of the many schools closer to home.

When it came time to decide on a college, Oklahoma was the last of four visits. Chumney had never been to the state and went in to the trip with an open mind. She had always imagined playing at a big SEC school but didn’t feel the “spark” until she arrived in Norman.

After meeting the coaches and seven of her eight new teammates, touring Headington Hall, and exploring the campus, Chumney felt an instant connection to campus.

“Alabama was where I always dreamed of playing when I was growing up. For a while I was kind of unsure until I came to Oklahoma and realized this was the place for me. I knew nothing about Oklahoma but little things have happened over time that have reassured me that this is the right place for me.”

Once she visited OU, Chumney knew that going to school in Tuscaloosa wasn’t going to happen. Though she’s close with her sister, she knew coming to the Sooner State would allow her to become her own person.

“We’re extremely close, but I think we kind of wanted to go our own way. It would have been nice being there with her but it’s good being able to do my own thing.”

Even though her decision led her away from the family’s loyalty, Chumney had full support from everyone.

“They were really happy for me. I think we were all kind of shocked, myself included. They supported my decision 100 percent and never forced me to feel any pressure towards one way or another. We were all really excited.”

Though the color scheme of the Sooners matched the Tide, sister Ashlee hoped Morgan would decide to follow in her footsteps at Alabama.

“I was definitely surprised since playing for Bama had always been a dream of hers,” Ashlee said.  “She ended up signing with the school before my parents even saw the school themselves. I was a little sad at first, because Morgan and I are super close and it would have been cool to go to the same school.”

In January, the entire Chumney family made the trek to the Sugar Bowl to watch Oklahoma take on Alabama. With the help of some Sooner Magic, Oklahoma won the game 45-31 and Morgan left New Orleans as the only happy member of the Chumney family.

“I think they were all on the inside a little mad that Alabama lost but they were trying to put on a happy face,” Morgan said. “My sister was livid. The drive back was a little tense but we were all happy that Oklahoma had done something that wasn’t expected.

“I’ve kind of made my dad more of a fan. He’s a huge Oklahoma fan now. When we went to the Sugar Bowl he was wearing half-Oklahoma, half-Alabama clothes. I think they’re just as big of Oklahoma fans as they are Alabama.”

Later that month, Chumney got to experience her own personal crimson rivalry as the tennis team traveled to Tuscaloosa for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Chumney and partner Emma Devine easily secured a win in doubles, but it would be her only victory that day.

The Sooners fell to the Tide, 4-3, in a battle that came down to one court and one tiebreaker. Though she left Tuscaloosa without a win, her parents and sister finally got to see her play a collegiate tennis match.

“They had seen me play in regionals in October but this was the first dual match they got to see. That was the first time my sister had seen me play in forever and it was a pretty cool environment to be there and show them that we’re just as good even if they’re ranked higher. I think we really played well and competed hard.”

Even after a Sugar Bowl loss at the hands of her younger sister’s school, Ashlee was one of the biggest supporters of Oklahoma tennis during last month’s matchup.

“It was so exciting seeing Morgan play at the collegiate level,” Ashlee said. “I got so into it and am so proud of how far she has come. It is really neat because I have been watching Morgan play since she was four years old, so it was really cool seeing how far she has come. It was probably the only time I'll cheer against Bama, but that day I was the Sooners’ number one fan.”

With three-quarters of a season and three more years ahead of her, Chumney has already started to make a name for herself at OU. She and Devine have only dropped one doubles match so far and she is 4-2 in singles at the No. 3 position.

“We believe Morgan has barely scratched the surface of what she is capable of,” OU head coach David Mullins said. “If she wants it badly enough she can truly have an elite level college career.”

Mullins isn’t surprised with what Chumney has brought to the table this year. Though she was recruited later than normal, Mullins saw something in Chumney and knew she would be successful even as freshman.

“She plays a lot more like a male player than your typical female college player and most of her opponents are unable to come to grips with her combination of big serving and powerful forehands. She also brings a sense of calmness to match days, which is a pleasant addition.”

Chumney may have just started her collegiate career but she has already shifted her alliance away from Alabama to Oklahoma. Her family may still be lifelong Alabama fans, but Chumney’s new loyalty will continue to lie with the Sooners.

“I’d say my allegiance has progressively become more to OU,” Morgan said. “At the beginning it was kind of hard to choose but I think after the Sugar Bowl, it’s all OU.

“I think everything happened for a reason and I’m very blessed and thankful that it all worked out for me to come here.”

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