April 6th, 2012

Hyland's Heroes: Marc Murphy

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Marc Murphy
photo from Marc Murphy

Murphy brings strong commitment to Nativity Academy

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Marc Murphy coached boys basketball for more than 15 years at St. Raphael and in the St. Matthews league. When they graduated, this week’s Hyland’s Heroes feature just thought he could hang up his whistle and retire after his three boys filtered through his tutelage there.

But a little fate and a co-worker intervened to give him a new opportunity at Nativity Academy.  With no more sons to coach and a different environment from what he was accustomed, Murphy took over a program that, like the school, is a labor of love.

“My relationship with the school began when a co-worker told me he was working a couple of days a week to tutor kids at the Nativity Academy,” recalled Murphy. “I told him that I’d be happy to help as well. I’ve coached my three sons in basketball for years and just that year decided that my kids were off to better coaches and I was ready to retire. Nativity Academy athletic director Bob Meyer asked and I agreed to do it. I respect the mission of the school and really like the idea of having a coach who isn’t a parent of a player because the focus stays on coaching the sport rather than any relationship a player and coach may have.”

Having stepped away from his sons’ playing careers, Murphy has fully embraced working with the young men at Nativity Academy. The Academy works harder than most to make a lasting imprint on not just a student’s, but an entire family’s life. Well over 90% of Nativity's student body qualifies for the Federal free and reduced school lunch program. With tuition at $20 per month, it is a far different environment from most Catholic schools in the Archdiocese.

“I’ve coached there for five years and will keep working with the school as long as I’m able to do it,” said Murphy. “I’ve had approximately eight students from each class (6th, 7th and 8th grades) to work with every year. The school is growing thanks to the great work of a lot of people on the Board and the Administration and the teaching staff. This year we had a larger group of sixth graders and they are extremely talented. From a basketball perspective, things are looking up.”

But the game Murphy coaches at Nativity Academy goes far beyond the lines of the court and the whistles at practice. While almost all coaches would like to see discipline as the core of their programs, Murphy has to walk a fine line among the standard principles most coaches take for granted, like showing up on time or just showing up period. His student athletes come from backgrounds that are complex and challenging.

Simply put, accountability and discipline look a lot different to the young men at Nativity Academy than they would to students at St. Raphael, for example. Some may have to take a TARC bus or two to and from school and some may have tougher circumstances.

“It’s a constant challenge, but it’s another classroom for these young men to learn that there are consequences for actions; that there is no guarantee of success with hard work, but there’s a guarantee of failure without hard work,” Murphy explained. “And frankly—and this sounds so bleak but it’s true—that life is full of joy, but it’s also full of disappointments. I’ve cried with these guys in locker rooms after games. I always try to let them know that it’s okay to want something that badly and to ask themselves did they do what was necessary to support that want and that desire.”

For someone who didn’t grow up in Louisville, Murphy and his wife Dustin have assimilated well to the culture of service espoused by the CSAA. Their three sons, John, Peter and Jay all attended St. Raphael and played sports there. John, now a senior and MBA candidate at Bellarmine, and Jay matriculated to Trinity. Jay is a freshman and a member of the Shamrocks basketball team. Middle son Peter attended St. Xavier high school where he earned All-American status playing lacrosse and is currently enrolled at Centre College and playing the sport there.

The CSAA and its values have had an effect on Murphy’s children and he’s determined to pass those values to his student-athletes at Nativity Academy.

“It is rare to find in a public system or rural schools or in other cities (something like the CSAA),” stated Murphy. “I can’t imagine another system where a young man or woman growing up wants to play a particular sport, and no matter how skilled they are, if they want to play they will get a chance to be on a team, wear a uniform, win and lose games, to walk on the court and their memories at having played sports in grade school are not going to be that dramatically different than the memories of those kids who end up playing Division I college sports. And that takes a lot of work. This is one of the main facets of the CSAA that makes it stand out.”


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