(Editor’s note: Another in a series on the 2018 Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame inductees.)
Mandy Lea Thomas Langford was born on July 29, 1976, in Gadsden, Alabama, to Gerald and Susan Thomas of Boaz. Gerald, a 2005 Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, taught and coached at Boaz High School. Mandy has an older sister Melina Diamond and a younger brother, John.
Mandy began her athletic career playing in youth leagues through the Boaz Recreation Center. Her first basketball experience was being the only girl on a boys’ league team coached by Hoyle Hayes. She also played softball and swam on the Boaz Swim Team. When Mandy was in 4th grade, Coach Thomas started the Boaz Saturday Morning League for girls’ basketball players. Mandy played in the league through 6th grade.
Mandy entered Boaz Junior High School in the fall of 1988 and made the junior high basketball team. During her 7th grade year, the Junior Lady Pirates finished the season undefeated at 22-0 and won the Marshall County Tournament Championship. She continued playing on the junior high team during 8th and 9th grades. At the end of her freshman year, her dad pulled her up to the varsity squad.
Mandy played A.A.U. basketball as well. Her Northeast Alabama Stars team, coached by Patrick Williams, a Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame board member, won state championships in 1990, ’91, and ’92. The Stars played in the National A.A.U. Tournament in Shreveport, Louisiana, Charleston, West Virginia, and Amarillo, Texas.
Mandy’s high school basketball career was quite prolific, and the Lady Pirates enjoyed much success. During her freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, Boaz won the Area Championship every year. In 1992-93, Boaz High School won its first ever Marshall County Tournament Championship in girls’ basketball. The following year, the Lady Pirates added a second county championship gold basketball to the trophy case. During Mandy’s junior year, the Lady Pirates made it to the A.H.S.A.A. State Tournament for only the second time in school history.
Mandy would be decorated with individual honors throughout high school. She was a three-time all-area selection and a three- time All-Marshall County performer. Additionally, as a senior, she was named to the Alabama Sportswriters Association All-State Team. During one game against DAR, Mandy scored 38 points, then a school record. Mandy was the 4th leading scorer in BHS girls’ basketball history, scoring 1,274 points.
Not only was Mandy a star in basketball, she also excelled in track. As a sophomore and junior, she qualified for the state track meet and finished 5th both years in the 2-mile. She was chosen as the Marshall County MVP in track in her junior year as she led BHS to consecutive track county championships in 1990 and 1991. Mandy also played softball for the Pirates and was named to the all- sectional team as a senior.
Numerous colleges recruited Mandy to play basketball at the next level. Schools like UAB, Middle Tennessee State, UNLV and the Air Force Academy wanted her basketball talent. When the dust settled, however, she chose to attend Auburn University–Montgomery and play for Coach Colby Tilley. A.U.M., an N.A.I.A. school, had only had its program for a few years, but Coach Tilley had turned them into a national power.
During Mandy’s freshman year, the Lady Senators went 34-3, won the Peach Belt Conference and made it to the final eight in the N.A.I.A. National Tournament. Mandy averaged 4.8 points per game as a freshman.
Her sophomore year brought similar results under new coach Paula Skinner, as the Lady Senators finished 30-6, won the Peach Belt Tournament and made it to the final eight in the national tournament. Coach Tilley had made the move to Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, the prior year, and during the summer of her junior year, Mandy decided to transfer there.
Playing for Kennesaw State, an N.C.A.A. Division II school, merited familiar results. During her junior year, Mandy’s team finished 30-2, won the Peach Belt Tournament, the South Atlantic Regional, and qualified for the N.C.A.A. Elite Eight in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Lady Owls eventually lost to Bentley in the quarterfinals.
Mandy’s senior season didn’t bring as much success as she had experienced in her previous collegiate years as KSU finished 18-10. Mandy graduated from Kennesaw State in 1999 with a degree in health and exercise science. She currently works as a real estate appraiser based out of Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2014, Mandy married Joe Langford. They have two daughters, Ryann, a high school freshman, and Chase, born in December 2017. She and Gerald become the first parent/child inductees into the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame.