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Profile: Don Murray; 50 years, 50 winning seasons

by Sarah Killip - Staff Photographer
Wed, Feb 12th 2020 10:00 am
Brockport head wrestling coach Don Murray shakes one of his wrestlers' hands. Murray has won 351 of his 439 dual meets in his 50 seasons at Brockport. His team is 8—1 in duals this season.
Brockport head wrestling coach Don Murray shakes one of his wrestlers' hands. Murray has won 351 of his 439 dual meets in his 50 seasons at Brockport. His team is 8—1 in duals this season.

In all the NCAA, only one individual has coached wrestling for 50 years and never had a losing season. Don Murray spent each one of those years at The College at Brockport, building a program that continues to thrive today. 

Room B224 in Tuttle North houses awards, photographs and a library of information Murray uses to educate athletes. In 50 years, he has coached 143 All-Americans, achieved 359 victories, five NCAA team titles and 13 final four appearances. 

Murray spent three out of his four years at the United States Air Force Academy on the wrestling team. His coach, olympic champion Douglas Blubaugh, later asked Murray to assist him in coaching the Pan-American team. 

An alumni of Brockport, Murray earned his bachelor’s degree in biological science and physical education. After earning his master’s, Murray started coaching at the school he graduated from and has done so ever since. 

“I knew I wanted to do something I enjoyed, so that’s why I decided to coach,” Murray said. “I started as an assistant coach and went from assistant coach to head coach.” 

When comparing the athletes from the beginning of his career to the athletes of today, Murray does not think much has changed.

“The faces have changed, but the athletes are the same,” Murray said. “You always have the same mixture. As a coach you control the environment. There’s more opportunities for people [in today’s athletics].”

As a coach, Murray has obtained experience from numerous athletes all around the world. Each season is different, but his experiences have helped shape his mentality and philosophy on how to coach. 

“This isn’t Burger King; I expect you to work and produce,” Murray said. “I don’t know if I’ve grown too much, but I’ve improved. I grow differently with different teams. There’s younger teams and veteran teams; there’s no one type of coach.” 

Senior Jon Lauricella feels that Murray’s experiences coaching teams at Brockport has played a major role in his techniques at the school.

“He has coached world teams and spent time at the Olympics training center and he brings a lot of those philosophies into the room,” Lauricella said. “He has also recruited a phenomenal coaching staff to provide the best for his athletes.”

Alongside coaching, Murray is the president of BASC and has been involved with nutrition at the school for about 15 years. What his athletes are eating is just as important as what they do in practice; a healthy body is just as important as a healthy mind. Training athletes to become champions is not a one-step process. 

“You don’t make a person a national champion until they’re ready to get there,” Murray said. “I have to find out where your mind is before I can lead you. I have to know how you’re walking before you can get to jogging and running. You have to find out where their mind is.”

Lauricella believes Murray is always looking to better his athletes. 

“He emphasizes hard work and mental toughness,” Lauricella said. “He is always ready to go to bat for you and any of his athletes and is always doing what he can to help you, which is something you don’t always find in a coach. Coach Murray is always in contact with his athletes, checking up on grades, injuries and just general well-being; he does a great job with that.”

Murray has built a legacy at Brockport that has changed the paths of so many individuals. 

“How many lives I’ve influenced by being here is my biggest achievement,” Murray said. “I just enjoy my job.”

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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