mirrors father on and off the ice
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Dec. 22, 2004
TJ Murphy is
a junior captain for the North Olmsted High School hockey team.
The fact that his father, Tim, has been the coach of the team for
the last 16 years has a lot to do with it. Not because of nepotism,
but because the apple in this case really did fall close to the
If you know
"Coach" but run into TJ on the street for the first time, you will
know he is his father's son. The resemblance is remarkable. TJ has
also picked up his father's class, enthusiasm, respect for the game
and work ethic as well. Tim teaches at the school where he is also
the baseball coach. TJ plays for his father in that sport as well.
While he excels at hockey, baseball may be his best sport. Last
year he was an all-conference player as a sophomore. TJ seems to
have the knack for teaching as well. Just ask both what the other's
best attribute is.
"He is a good
teacher," TJ said of his father. "He knows the game and he really
focuses on teaching all of his players. By the end of the year,
we always seem to be a lot better."
And dad on
"He knows the
game," Tim said. "Dealing with other players, he is like another
coach. He really does know the game. He is the same way in baseball.
He is a natural teacher. He works very hard."
as captain came through the same process that Tim has always used.
"I have a three
prong test for our captains," Tim said. "They have to have a grade
point of 3.0. They have to be in the top 10 percent of the players.
They have to be involved in something in the school. They have to
be a solid human being with high moral character. That is what all
three of my captains have. When you have only one senior, you have
to look to the junior class."
You hear all
the time how athletes have changed over the years. Not TJ, it seems
he may be from another era.
"He is a throw
back," Tim said. "He plays three sports at a very high level. He
was an all-SWC baseball player as a sophomore. He is a two-year
starter in football. He played big minutes for us the last two years
in hockey. He gets so excited about the season he is in. He has
been blessed with a football coach who understands that.
"He is a better
athlete than I ever was, and I was a D-1 baseball player. And he
is able to keep his grades up and he is usually in a good mood.
He is an ideal high school athlete. He plays three sports and he
does very well at them. He enjoys being on those teams. He hangs
out with the kids he is in season with. Although I am sure he is
happy that I don't coach three sports."
TJ, however, you are not sure that is the case. He understands what
it is to be the coach's son.
"It is tough
sometimes, but it is fun too," TJ said. "He is harder on me, but
there is nothing like having that bond with your dad."
his father so much when he was younger has been a great classroom
for TJ. His knowledge of sports is one of his strongest traits.
"Since he was
a kid, he has watched video with me," Tim said. "He would go scouting
with me. He knows what I want."
have been moments when the line between coach and dad have been
tough. Those moments are becoming fewer and fewer.
"When he was
a freshman and a sophomore, there were some times when it was tough,
but he has really grown up and matured," Tim said. "I can now just
look him in the eye and not say anything, which helps. There are
times when I have to say I am now talking to you as a coach and
not as a dad. Fortunately I have not had to have many of those.
He is a good kid and he genuinely wants to do the right thing."
relationship and Tim's relationship with his other children -- his
daughter Kelly is a college pitcher at Youngstown State and his
8th grade son Chad is one of the best hockey players his age in
the area -- are about more than sports.
people think that sports are always on my mind and I push them to
be athletes," Tim said. "I could care less. If TJ was a musician
my basement would be sound proof. I have a batting cage in my backyard.
Sports is a part of our lifestyle but not all encompassing. Academics
are much more stressed in our house."
TJ agrees with
"He never pushed
me to play," TJ said.
TJ has started
the season on a goal scoring streak. He scored 8 goals in the SWC
tournament and has 12 goals and 6 assists so far this season. The
goals are nice, but not what TJ is most known for.
"I think I
am better at setting people up, but the goals have just been coming
lately," TJ said. "I am better at giving the puck to other athletes,
but it just hasn't worked out lately. I think I am more confident
this year, and I am not afraid to shoot. Last year I think I held
the puck too much. I should have shot more last year."
is not surprised about the goals, but he agrees that TJ's strength
is how he sets up his teammates.
he was little he has been able to finish," Tim said. "The best thigk
he does is playmake. He has set the other guys up a lot this year,
but they haven't finished but they will. That is his best attribute."
decided that TJ could help the team more on defense. So for much
of the game, TJ is now on the blue line rather than at forward.
"TJ is playing
D to shore up a deficiency in our team," Tim said. "To help us move
the puck and be an offensive defenseman. He is put up front at the
end of each period."
the need for the switch.
"I was scoring
goals, but we were still losing," TJ said. "It will be good for
us. We won't win if we give up too many goals. I will still get
the chance to play forward when my dad feels we need to get a goal."
That is leadership
by example. Another part of becoming a captain is also being a vocal
leader. TJ has had to work on that.
Tom Walls and I are both juniors, so it is a surprise for us to
be juniors," TJ said. "We have stepped it up. I have had to become
more vocal in practice and in games to get guys fired up. I am trying
to teach the younger guys how to play more. It is a rebuilding year.
Last year we had about 10 seniors this year we have one. We are
a lot smaller. We have a very young defense. We are starting to
work just as hard."