By Ty Schadt, Sports Editor
Asbury’s men’s lacrosse team is entering the 2017-18 athletic year under the tutelage of first year coach Ben Murphy. Typically, when a team undergoes such a drastic change a number of questions arise: will the new coach stick to the same methods and ways as his predecessor? Will he mesh with the players? Will the players accept him? All things considered, it’s no wonder many teams struggle with this kind of transition.
However, that’s not quite the case for the Eagles. Murphy was an assistant coach and the defensive coordinator for the team last year, so the promotion has come with open arms. “We’ve seen him coach so we know his style and know what he expects from us,” said midfielder Frederick Thacker.
Murphy also has quite a history with the game of lacrosse. After a season at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, he transferred to the University of Kentucky, where he captained a club team for two seasons. Before joining Asbury’s team in 2016, he coached at multiple high schools in the Lexington area, even winning the 2012 High School Assistant Coach of the Year Award by the Kentucky Lacrosse Association. He’s officiated lacrosse for six years and also coached Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. This winding road has led Murphy to the helm of an Asbury team with great potential.
A person who has committed so many years to a sport does not do so unless he greatly enjoys it and believes it has the potential to do that which other things cannot, such as change lives and mold them for the better. “Lacrosse is all the best sports rolled into one,” Murphy said. “You get the strategy of basketball, contact of football and the conditioning of soccer, without necessarily needing a certain body size.”
One of the biggest realizations in his new position has been the number of hats head coaches wear. “As an assistant, all I had to focus on was the next game. Now it’s all about recruiting, making the schedule [and] coordinating events.”
This offseason, Murphy excelled in recruiting. “All last season, we had so many close losses where we felt that if we just had three more guys, we’d have pulled it out.” With only 18 players, exhaustion set in and restrained the Eagles from capturing several games that were otherwise up for grabs. However, the addition of several athletes has raised the total to 21 players, a more applicable number according to Murphy.
Despite coming off a 2-10 season, the Eagles are looking up. One thing Murphy wants to stress to his team is the difference between goals and rewards. “I hate when I see people say their goal is to win a conference championship. To me, that’s a reward, not a goal. A goal is to work hard so you can have the reward of a conference championship.” That goal is already underway for the team, seeing as they are in the midst of a fall season that will run until late October. These games shall serve as a great measuring stick for a team that has the potential to turn a lot of heads this season.
All things given, it seems like the Eagles and Murphy have a great opportunity to transform the image of Asbury lacrosse. “God’s thrown me all kinds of bones lately,” Murphy said. “We’ve got a bunch of good athletes that are ready to go. My mom used to tell me to leave things better than I found them, so I hope I can help this team make a mark for the future.”