Murphy Selected As Ashland’s New Boys Hoop Coach

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

Colin Murphy is Ashland High’s new boys basketball coach and although he’s been Sharon’s jayvee coach for the last three years, he’s well-known to many of his prospective players because they’ve likely been one of his students or played football or baseball for him at the freshman or jayvee levels.
The 36-year-old Walpole native, who was hired to replace Isaiah Davis early in October, has taught science at the Middle School for five years and he’s been Ashland’s junior varsity head coach in football and also the offensive line coach for the varsity. Murphy also has coached freshman and middle school baseball for the Clockers.
“My transition should be smooth,’’ Murphy said. “The kids know me from class or from playing baseball or football. I met with most of the players after I was hired and let them know what my vision is for the program.’’
Murphy’s goals are specific and, as he says, “a bit lofty.’’ First on his list is to create a hard-working culture. “I want to establish a culture where our players develop a strong work ethic and commit to improving and being dedicated. Other objectives include qualifying for the tourney and to compete for the Tri Valley League title. I believe in setting high goals even if it might take time to achieve them.’’
Murphy’s three-year tenure at Sharon proved to be a valuable asset as he underwent the interview process. His teams were slightly above .500 in the ultra-competitive Hockomock League.
“The Sharon experience was excellent,’’ he said. “The Hockomock League is perhaps the best in the state. Last year, Franklin and Mansfield battled for the Division 1 State championship. It’s got the best talent and the best coaches. At the jayvee level, I focused on developing talent, generating competition at practices and preparing players for varsity roles.’’
Stephen Marks, Ashland’s Athletic Director, said he’s excited to have Murphy on board. “His passion, vision for building a sustainable program and ability to connect with and lead student-athletes stood out throughout the interview process,’’ Marks said. “We look forward to seeing growth within our basketball program under Colin’s leadership. It’s certainly an exciting time for the Clockers.”
Murphy knows the TVL also has quality players and coaches and he’s acutely aware that playing in that circuit will be no cakewalk. “The level of competition in the TVL is high and there’ll be no easy games on our schedule. It’ll be a challenge. We’ll open the season at Millis on Dec. 14.’’
Murphy, however, knows a lot about Ashland’s blue-collar style from his sub-varsity days and he admires the sacrifices players make.
“Ashland kids aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches,’’ he emphasized. “The amount of work the players do to improve themselves is admirable, whether it’s in the weight room or in summer workouts, in season or out of season. I like seeing all the coaches working together to make our kids the best they can be. Multi-sport athletes are encouraged and that’s fundamental to what we’re trying to establish as an overall program.’’
Stressing that no player has any guarantees of a roster spot, Murphy’s drills and practices will focus on “fundamentals, conditioning and being competitive.’’ His team will be strong on defense. “I want our team to be strong on the defensive end every year,’’ Murphy noted. “Defense takes energy and willingness. On offense, our talent will dictate whether we favor an up-tempo, running game or more of a deliberate attack.’’
A fan favorite of Larry Bird and the late Reggie Lewis because of their insatiable competitive nature, Murphy’s coaching philosophy relies on several factors. “First, I want to develop character, then make sure my players see the results of their work and dedication,’’ Murphy said. “I want players to understand how hard work translates to real-life situations and also know that winning is part of my competitive philosophy.’’
Murphy is convinced that athletics can provide valuable life lessons and he hopes his players will “learn how to overcome adversity, to be resilient in dealing with any failures and to understand accountability.’’ Leadership is important, too. “Putting one’s team ahead of individual statistics is another quality lesson to learn,’’ he emphasized.’’
Calling his parents (Blance and Michael) role models for stressing the value of passion when choosing a career and to be hard-working and willing to sacrifice, Murphy rates his Pop Warner coach (Jack Ahearn) in Walpole as a key figure in his development. “Jack passed away a few years ago,’’ Murphy noted. “He was so instrumental in developing team culture and teaching great lessons. He stressed team-first attitudes and to play with passion.’’
Murphy is also a big fan of Andrew McKay, the Clockers’ varsity football coach. “Andrew promotes dedication and he teaches his assistants how to build relationships with the players,’’ Murphy said. “Those things are a big key to his success.’’
Marks is bullish on coaches who build quality relationships. “As an athletic department and school district, we talk a lot about building relationships,’’ Marks said. “Coach Murphy has a proven track record of getting the best out of his athletes while teaching much more than x’s and o’s.”
Murphy, his wife Annie and nine-month old daughter (Sloane) reside in Norwood. He’s a Walpole High grad who majored in earth and geographic sciences at the University of California at Santa Barbara and UMass Boston. He also has a masters in education from UMass Boston.
Well-qualified to take the reins of a varsity program, Murphy’s players no doubt will be athletic, gritty, skilled and display solid court awareness.
And, as Marks says: “Since being hired, I’ve been impressed with Colin’s enthusiasm and how much preparation he’s putting not only into the upcoming season, but also the future of Ashland boys basketball.”