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AU News

Trojan Alumna to Compete in Olympics

Lexy Mollenhauer and Azerbaijan Team
Anderson University alumna Alexy Mollenhauer is headed to Paris in quest of Olympic gold.

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On April 14 at the Olympic Qualifier Tournament in Hong Kong, Mollenhauer hit a game winning shot in overtime over Poland for her Azerbaijan team, punching their ticket for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. 

Azerbaijan athletes have won several Olympic medals over the years, but the women’s basketball team, she says, is the nation’s first team sport to qualify for the Olympics. 

“I think that’s every athlete’s dream—to compete at the highest level with the top athletes from all over,” she said. 

“We are so proud of Alexy and all she has accomplished after graduating from AU,” said Anderson University Vice President for Athletics Dr. Bert Epting Jr. “She has represented the Trojan Family all over the world while playing basketball and now to have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics is absolutely amazing!”

When Mollenhauer’s parents accepted teaching positions at an international school in Azerbaijan, she was just five years old. They packed up, left Texas and headed to the former Soviet state located at the intersection of Europe and Asia. 

“I’ve always been around basketball growing up, playing with my siblings. Basketball has always been a huge part of my life,” she said. “The summer before my senior year, I hadn’t really thought about playing at college, what that looks like. Nobody from Azerbaijan internationally and locally had ever pursued playing basketball at college.”  

As a teenager, Mollenhauer was already playing basketball on the international level, competing against international players on a court with teammates and opponents who were older and more experienced. 

“I started my junior year of high school playing with Azerbaijan. I was 16 playing on their women’s team. We were playing against professional players,” she said. “It was good competition, but I feel it was kind of hard to showcase what I could do at that level because I wasn’t at that level, but I got together all the video I could from that—video from playing internationally with my school, the international competitions that we played in Georgia, different tournaments in Azerbaijan and Baku—made a little highlight video and found this website of college coaches’ emails and just sent out hundreds of emails.” 

Mollenhauer was focusing on parts of the U.S. where she had family living nearby, then some friends of hers in Charlotte urged her to look into Anderson University. She sent them a short video.  

She recalls that former Trojans Women’s Basketball Coach Jimmy Garrity FaceTimed her a couple of times to gauge her potential as a Trojan.  

“The second FaceTime call,” Mollenhauer said, “he was like ‘we’d like to offer you a full ride to come to Anderson.’ The only thing they had seen is the six minute clip of me playing. Afterwards, Garrity told the AD that either Alexy is going to be really good or she’s going to be really bad—kind of like a ‘wild card’.”  

When Mollenhauer came to Anderson University, she admits she had to adjust to fast-paced American basketball, joining the Trojans under newly-hired Women’s Basketball Coach Jonathon Barbaree. She explained that the brand of professional basketball she played in Europe emphasizes strategy over speed. 

But Mollenhauer hit her stride on the court. Soon, she started stacking up honors for her playing skills, including being selected South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, was SAC tournament MVP and a member of the Google Cloud Academic All-America Division II Women’s Basketball team. 

Throughout her college playing experiences, there were others who thought she should transfer to a Division 1 team, but for her, playing Division 2 ball was worth it; being at Anderson University and experiencing their loving and caring community was all the reason she needed. 

“I do not regret at all staying at Anderson for four years—just the school, the people, the friendships that I had developed there,” said Mollenhauer, who majored in Education while at Anderson. “I’m very thankful for coach JB and the time he put into developing me as a player at the college level… and then off the court just what Anderson stands for…  I’m very thankful for my time—it was a special four years for sure.” 

After graduating from Anderson University, Mollenhauer joined professional women’s league basketball in Europe, engaging in high level competition that has taken her around the globe. When the opportunity came up to join the Azerbaijan team in their quest for the Olympics, she enthusiastically signed up. She’s grateful to her professional team in Spain accommodating her, although the Olympic qualifying competitions overlapped with her pro season.  

“Last summer we competed in the Women’s Series for 3×3 (three-on-three). Three-on-three is all based off of points, so you have to have enough points for your country to even be in the top 15 or top 10 in the world to qualify for these tournaments to compete in, and so Azerbaijan reached out two years ago probably. We competed in the Islamic Games and after that their goal is to try to qualify,” she said.  

While Mollenhauer is excited about going to Paris and the prospect of Olympic gold, she says she’ll always have fond memories of Anderson and the loving, supportive community she found while playing in the Trojan uniform. 

“I can’t thank enough the people that were there when I was there who just poured into me as a person, as an athlete, as a student,” she said. “It’s special when you have that family… that family atmosphere; That’s something you don’t find everywhere.” 

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