For a new era to rise, one must come to a close.
The 2021 football season will be one without Coach Michael Murphy at the helm. After fifteen years, Murphy will pass the torch to former defensive coordinator Mr. Brian Martin.
The players looked up to Coach Murphy, or “Murph,” as they often call him.
“He brings a great knowledge of football, a fantastic winning attitude, and a love for his players to the field every day,” Sixth Form starting quarterback Dante Perri said. “That is very contagious.”
These traits served as the foundation for his lasting success. Just three years after stepping into the role, he was named Main Line Times Coach of the Year and the following season, Philadelphia Daily News Coach of the Year. In 2016, he won the Inter-Ac Distinguished Coach Award.
Despite his large-scale success, when he was hired to coach back in 2005, former headmaster Dr. Joe Cox had one goal for him: “Beat Episcopal.” Disregarding recent meetings with EA, Murphy has done much more than that.
Murphy’s past success motivated many young players.
“Growing up watching Haverford football created my dream of one day playing myself and being part of the culture and success that Coach Murphy established,” Fifth Former Colby Kim said.
However, the team struggled in recent years.
“Coach Murphy never shied away from the truth,” Perri said.
Perri’s Fourth and Fifth Form seasons were sub-par. The team totaled just four wins in these two years. Murphy knew what needed to be done.
“He told us that the change started with him. He was able to restructure practices so that we were the most efficient,” Perri added. “Coach Murphy set the bar high for us every day, and that was what turned us around.”
Murphy’s selflessness was recognized and appreciated by the entire football community.
Kim said, “He understood where changes needed to be made.”
It is easy for a coach to turn to the players during poor performances. The players took responsibility, but so did Murphy.
“He made changes in coaching style, leadership, and preparation, even if it meant swallowing his pride. He did it all for the team.”Colby Kim ’21
“He made changes in coaching style, leadership, and preparation, even if it meant swallowing his pride. He did it all for the team,” Kim added.
Murphy’s impact stretched far beyond winning football games.
Players love Murphy as a man in addition to as a coach.
“During practice over the summer, I remember Coach Murph storming towards me and yelling, ‘Colby, get your car out of my parking lot before evening practice or we’re going to have a problem!’”
That playful attitude perfectly offset his serious demeanor.
Football is one of the most physically demanding sports, and the players made many sacrifices to wear maroon and gold. But at the end of the day, the environment Murphy created allowed the players to grow as brothers as well as athletes.
“He never forgot to remember that we are high school kids,” Perri said.
While Murphy recently stepped down as head coach, he stepped up into his new position as Athletic Director. In this role, he will be able to impact a more expansive range of students. Two factors influenced his decision: time and commitment.
“There are only so many hours in the day,” Murphy noted.
He makes a great effort to be as committed as possible to every challenge he takes on.
“With my new role, I feel like I was not able to do it the way I’ve done it for fifteen years. If I can’t give our team my full commitment, that, to me, is unacceptable.”
Coach Murphy, after all this time, would never leave the program if he wasn’t confident in the team’s future. Coach Martin, former defensive coordinator and associate head coach, will assume head coaching duties.
“I am stable, competitive, and accountable. But equally important, I bring the energy, and I’m very excited.”Coach Brian Martin
“I’m excited that his philosophy and belief in the program will be similar to mine. But at the same time, we need a new life and new direction that he certainly brings,” Murphy said.
Mr. Martin is on the same page.
“Being with Murph for so many years, we built that culture together, and I look forward to continuing that,” Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin will bring a new flavor and atmosphere to complement Murphy’s groundwork.
“I am stable, competitive, and accountable,” Mr. Martin said. “But equally important, I bring the energy, and I’m very excited.”
The players are equally excited for this new era of Haverford football.
Fifth Form leader Chris Sims said, “I have faith that Coach Martin will do the best thing for this program.”
Colby Kim agreed: “Coach Martin has always been a very vocal leader. The coaching transition will be smooth.”
Fellow Fifth Former Geordy Holmes added, “Coach Martin deserves the job. Anyone who knows him knows how much he cares about our football team.”
So there you have it. Nobody is happy that Coach Murphy is stepping down. But at the same time, the community will embrace Coach Martin and remains confident in his ability to continue old, winning traditions with a new flare.
Dante Perri is certain of one thing under Martin’s control.
“This program will continue trending upward,” Perri said.