Lincoln Southwest student manager inspires players and coaches

Photo David Munro and brother John watch ESPN together after school. David Munro is passionate about sports, but he can’t play because of a heart condition, so he channeled his enthusiasm into being a student manager for three sports at Lincoln Southwest.

Story, photos and video by Paige Dimakos, NewsNetNebraska

Although David Munro’s afternoons are filled with the same  mundane tasks — scribbling stats, filling up water bottles, encouraging players — the 17-year-old wouldn’t have life any other way.

As student manager for Lincoln Southwest High’s baseball, basketball and soccer teams, Munro is living the dream.

Sure, deep down inside he’d much rather be scoring a goal on the field or dunking a basketball on the court instead of schlepping equipment on the sidelines.

But for Munro, who was born with half a heart, every day that he is alive is something special. And his coaches and teammates feel the same way.

“David is what makes our team a family,” said Dan Carpenter, head boy’s soccer coach at Lincoln Southwest.

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David Munro was only a day old when a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Regional Health Center noticed his coloring was not right. He was rushed off for tests while his parents, Susie and Michael Munro, anxiously waited to hear news about their first-born child.

Initially, they were told their baby had severe heart problems. A day later, he was life-flighted to the University of Michigan Medical Center for the first of three heart surgeries he would undergo in his first week of life.

The doctor’s diagnosis: hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means he was born with the left side of his heart being absent. This extremely rare — and lethal — condition occurs in only one in  5,000 babies.

The prognosis is usually grim.  But not for David Munro.

“He’s virtually outlived everyone who suffers from his condition,” Susie Munro said.

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From a young age, Munro noticed the difference between him and the other kids.

“It was at about age five I realized I couldn’t keep up with the rest of my friends,” he said.

He played T-ball through the YMCA until fourth grade and closely followed professional basketball teams like his favorite Chicago Bulls. He remembers being captivated by Michael Jordan.

And, of course, he fell in love with Husker football.

The passion he developed for sports lead him to eventually become a beloved part of Lincoln Southwest High School’s athletic programs.

The coaches and players admire Munro’s ability to dedicate himself to something without the rewards. He attends practices and games almost every day after school; his dedication, positive attitude and love of the game is inspiring.

“Dave has never used his medical condition as an excuse, which has really made our players realize that they have no excuses either in reaching their potential,” said Coach Duane Baack, head boy’s basketball coach at Lincoln Southwest.

“David is just a much a part of the team as anyone else, and he is dedicated to what he does.”

But for Munro, sports is much more.

“It’s not about playing the game,” he said. “It’s about the friendships and memories you make along the way.”

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Video: David Munro discusses what it’s like to live with half of a heart.

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Munro began as student manager for the basketball team during his freshman year of high school and since then has added soccer and baseball to his repertoire. His tasks include everything from running the clock to encouraging the players after they come out from a play.

But Munro’s presence on the sidelines is invaluable.

“David is not like a manager, he is like an assistant coach, “ said Rob Slauson, Southwest principal. “ It is so exciting to watch because he takes his job so seriously.”

Munro treats the practices as if he is an actual player. After a recent surgery in October 2011, he was forced to miss practice. But that didn’t stop him from constantly pestering his coaches with calls and texts to make sure his job was being done right.

While managing the teams is almost a full-time job for Munro — he spends his nights and weekends attending games and practices — he’s also managed to stay at the top of his class and be a leader in school. He is a member of the student council and involved in school choir. “ David has a tremendous impact not only on the teams he manages, but the whole LSW community,” Coach Baack said. Munro will take his talents to Nebraska Wesleyan next year, where he plans to get involved with sports after his first semester. Baack said Munro will be greatly missed. “David left his mark at Southwest, and it will never be the same without him here.”