By Chris Maza
There has been a lot of news lately involving successful basketball coaches in Western Massachusetts on the move, but none was as striking or surprising to me as Amherst Regional High School girls' basketball coach Christal Murphy announcing that she was stepping away from the game.
Murphy, who in high school was one of the key members of the Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS) girls' basketball team that won three state championships in four years, spent six years in Amherst turning the program into a first-rate squad.
Prior to coaching, she also played for the American International College basketball team, which was a perennial power in the Northeast and consistently made appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2002.
Now it appears for the first time in two decades, basketball won't be in Murphy's plans.
According to last week's report in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the former Wilbraham resident who now resides in Ludlow and works as a special education teacher and team leader in Westfield, will pursue her goal of becoming a school administrator after completing post-masters studies in special education administration.
Murphy leaves behind a tremendous body of work in Amherst that culminated last season in a team that competed for the Western Massachusetts Division I Championship.
Consider this: The season before Murphy took over the Hurricanes on the hardwood, the team went 1-11. Since then, the team has posted an impressive 99-35 record and has gone from an afterthought on teams' schedules to a team to be reckoned with.
By the way, this was her first head-coaching gig.
Though it appears that basketball is no longer in her future, rest assured that her impact on the game will leave a lasting impression.
At every level, whether playing, coaching or even in her endeavors beyond the gym, Murphy has proven to be a champ, excelling at whatever she has put her energies toward.
In that respect, she has been a great ambassador for the game of basketball and women's sports, but most importantly she has been an ideal role model for young women and luckily for the folks of Massachusetts, she will continue that role.
Best of luck to a tremendously successful member of the sports community and someone this area can be proud to call its own.