Written by: Maxine Goynes, '11
Five years ago, Gregg Murphy joined the Santa Clara women's soccer team as the associate head coach. Prior to joining the Santa Clara force, he was the head coach of the LMU Lions Women's soccer team. Tired of losing in the recruiting game to Santa Clara University, and ready for new scenery, Gregg Murphy became part of the SCU community.
A four-year letter winner (1981-84) for the Panthers, Murphy was named to Chapman University's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. Murphy earned all-conference honors three times and All-America honors twice. In 1984 he played for the West Regional team and was named an alternate to the U.S. National Universities Team. He remains one of Chapman's all-time leading scorers with 24 goals, 12 assists and 60 career points. Murphy later played with the Los Angeles Lazers reserve team of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
SantaClaraBroncos.com took an opportunity to catch up with Gregg Murphy (GM) to ask him about his soccer career prior to SCU, and his experience coaching most recently.
SCB: Did you play sports in college and if so, where?
GM: Yes I did, funny enough I was recruited to play soccer here at Santa Clara by Ralph Perez, but chose to go to college at Chapman University in Orange County.
SCB: How did you get into coaching? And how old were you?
GM: Really by accident, as a kid I always dreamt of being a pro. So after I finished my college playing career, I went out to pursue my dream of playing professional soccer. After about a year of trying to make my dream a reality I realized it was going to be very difficult so I began picking up odd jobs to pay the rent, etc. I was working construction when someone asked me to coach their son's club team, then someone else asked me to coach the local boys high school team, then my college alma mater asked me to coach the women's soccer team and shortly after that I found myself coaching both the men and women at Chapman University. All this time I was still playing at a pretty high level and still in the back of my mind hoping a professional career would come along, but then one day woke up, looked in the mirror and said to myself...."I think you are officially a coach and no longer a player". I think I was about 26 or 27 on that day when I woke up and looked in the mirror and said, "I think you are a coach" (laughs).
SCB: What do you like about coaching?
GM: I really like teaching. I love seeing the look on a player's face when they finally accomplish something I have been trying to teach them. That is a very rewarding feeling for me as a coach. I also think sport is a great vehicle to help shape young peoples lives. I hope I have helped my players to leave college and be better prepared for the "real world".
SCB: You were the former coach of LMU, but what has been your favorite aspect of coaching at SCU?
GM: I really enjoy the overall atmosphere here at SCU. The university and the athletic department truly care about the students and the student-athletes. It is nice to work in that sort of environment.
SCB: What aspects of sports have you learned to appreciate since you have been a coach rather than an athlete?
GM: I'm very passionate about soccer and as an athlete, sports came very easy to me. Whether it was football, basketball or soccer, I could pick up things very quickly. When I first started to coach I was easily frustrated by athletes who didn't grasp concepts or techniques quickly and I couldn't figure out why everyone wasn't as passionate about soccer as I am. I soon figured out my players all had different needs, they learned things in different ways and it was my job as a coach to help them with those need and to coach them for who they are and not as if they are like me.
SCB: What has been your greatest coaching moment?
GM: I think I have two of them. The first being the feeling I had when Chapman men's team I was coaching won the Western regional final to advance to the Final Four. My second moment is more of the greatest feeling I have had as a coach. I was an assistant coach in 2006 with the U20 national team for the U20 World Cup in Russia. Obviously before every one of our games our national anthem was played. During those moments I felt so blessed and so proud to be an American. The feeling I had during those moments is almost indescribable.
SCB: What was your greatest moment as an athlete?
GM: I scored some pretty big game winning goals in some pretty big games, and was on a semi-pro team that won a national championship but I don't think those were my greatest moment as an athlete. My parents were hugely supportive of me growing up. They drove me to my practices, my games, attended all my games, etc. I received a scholarship to play soccer at Chapman and so my greatest moment as an athlete was being able to give a little something back to them for all their love and support while I was growing up. I felt pretty good about being able to do that.
SCB: When you stop coaching one day, what will you most want to be remembered for by the athletes you have coached?
GM: I hope they all remember me as someone who really cares about them as person and not just an athlete. Division I sports is very competitive and it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters and that's the growth of the student athlete as a person. I hope my players will look back on their time playing for me and say I learned a lot from Gregg but I also appreciate how much he cared about me as a person.