Tom Murphy still going strong after 7 decades of coaching basketball

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 11:05 PM EDT
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BELLEVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Tom Murphy is a legend in both the high school and college basketball coaching ranks, and he is still going strong after spending 7 decades on the bench.

Murphy got his start at Colton Pierrepont coaching high school basketball and then moved on to Union Academy at Belleville, where his teams won 83 straight games under him, setting a state record.

Murphy left Union Academy in 1970 and took over at Hamilton College where he won 602 games, had 30 post season berths, won 20 or more games in each of 16 seasons, and was National Coach of the Year in 1979.

”It was just a great- It was quite a transition, really. We had 4 straight undefeated seasons and I went down to Hamilton College. When I took the job, they told me it was going to be a major rebuilding program. I thought probably we’d win at least half our games but started out losing our first 15 games. We won the last game of the season and it took a couple of years to get it going, but once we got it going we had like 30 years in a row where we won either 20 games or awful close to 20 games,” said Murphy.

After spending a few seasons at SUNY Tech on the bench, Murphy got a call to take his knowledge of the game to the Division 1 level, a call from someone he had both coached and coached with.

”One of my former captains, and a guy that was one of my assistant coaches at Hamilton got the Northeastern job, Bill Coen. And he called me up and asked me if I’d like to come down and help him out for a year to get started, and I said sure. Now we’re in our 17th year. I went down there thinking I was gonna be there for a year or 2,” said Murphy.

Still going strong in his 80′s, Murphy is the coordinator of basketball advancement at Northeastern University and is still roaming the sidelines.

He says coaching lessons he learned at Union Academy have served him well throughout his coaching career.

”I think that the same things that made the group here at Belleville successful made the teams at Hamilton successful. There’s no shortcuts, it’s all hard work and willing to pay the price. These guys here at Belleville set the standard,” said Murphy.

Murphy won 760 games as a high school and college coach and has been a part of 260 wins at Northeastern University as an assistant. But he says the 1,020 wins on the hardwood isn’t something he focuses on.

”I don’t worry about the wins and losses. I worry about the effort you put into it. If everybody does the best they can and works to their potential, what I’ve found is the wins take care of themself,” said Murphy.

As far as how much longer Murphy wants to coach, he says he wants to continue doing it as long as he feels he has something to contribute.

”Yeah, you know, when it isn’t fun I’ll stop. As long as I’m having a good time and enjoying it and feel like I’m helping people I’ll coach another 20 years if I can,” said Murphy.

Tom Murphy, a true legend both on and off the basketball court.

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