Mike Murphy: Three takeaways from three years in the PLL
By Mike Murphy
1. The players & coaches.
Being able to work with the Whipsnakes was an unbelievable experience. For three years I felt part of a big family. Our guys are not only some of the world’s best players, but they are all the world’s best guys. They welcomed my family in and made them feel as much as a part of the team as any other player. Coach Stagnitta and Coach Grady were so great to work with as well. Their passion for the game and building relationships is off the charts. Those first two years with Mike Ehrhardt, Matt Dunn, Tim Muller, Bryce Young, Brett Schmidt, Jake Bernhardt, Ty Warner, Isaac Parparo, Joe Nardella and Kyle Bernlohr were really special. I will miss my time with Kyle greatly, those were special times just Kyle and I during a warm-up. He is one of the hardest working goalies I have ever been around. Year three had many of the same faces but adding Colin Squires, Nick Manis, Brian Phipps and Charlie Hayes was invigorating to coach the new breed of Whipsnakes defenders.
Year three though “sour” for not winning a championship holds a special place in my heart because I got to coach Matt Abbott. Matt had been my assistant for 7 years at Colgate along with his brother Mike, who is now at UPenn. My family and the Abbott’s have become really close and being able to work alongside Matt one more time was extra special.
I will really miss the locker room, the times in the hotel as well as the time on the practice field. Celebrating two championships over three years with our team was priceless.
2. The support staff.
From the sports medicine team lead by Dr. Logan, to the media teams lead by Lisa Redmond and Emma Adams along with TV personalities Brendan Burke, Paul Burmeister and Ryan Boyle to the equipment staff lead by Kevin Warnock, it was so much fun on game weekends. The care and professionalism that all the folks who worked to produce a world class production brought to each weekend was phenomenal. I am so thankful to the “Army” of photographers from Sammy Brettschneider, Eric Bowden, to Katie Defeo, just to name a few. The quality of their work is out of this world. The “Yellow Shirts” lead by head official Matt Palumb did a great job officiating a game moving at hyper speed. Everyone loves to yell at them during the game, but their work on the field allowed the players to honor the Creator’s game.
3. Our opponents.
I was so humbled and honored to be associated with a League that showcases our sports best. Men like Tom Shreiber, Kyle Harrison and John Galloway are such great stewards of the game. The young guys like Grant Ament, Jack Rowlett, Michael Sowers and TD Irelan show that the future is bright. Having Colin Heacock give me his autograph for my son Colin, shows that even though we compete on Saturdays and Sundays it’s about more than just wins and losses. I will miss the interactions with the coaches. The competitive nature of Chris Bates and Tony Resch made me better. The desire to beat Nat St. Laurent and Todd MacFarlane made me watch an extra few minutes of film every time we prepared for the Redwoods. The creative nature of Andy Towers and his Chaos staff challenged us to be at our best. I am excited to watch Andy Copelan, Sean Quirk and Ben Reubeor continue to build their teams. The professionalism of Tim Soudan and Jacque Monte was humbling. Good luck men.
For those young players and fans reading this work on your stick skills yes, but more importantly make yourself better by being a great teammate, a great friend and a great human.
The game of lacrosse is special in so many ways, the game is beautiful, but in the end it’s the people that make it special.