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SPORTS March 28, 2012 | The Marshfield Mail | 3B

Murphy: School cites lower participation as reason Continued from Page 1B “I don’t compromise on a lot of things, when it comes to giving a championshiptype effort. As far as going too far, I’ve never done that. I haven’t done anything that I’m ashamed of, as far as things I wish I hadn’t done. I can look myself in the mirror and think I’ve done the best job that I could.” Despite players and parents voicing their protests about Murphy’s style, however, the Lady Jays’ former coach said he was never approached by any of his players with an issue, which is why he said this decision caught him off guard. “I never had one player come and express any kind of concern to me all year,” he said. “I had one parent that came and called to ask if he could talk to me. It was the day after the Pink and White tournament was over. It was a cordial conversation, in my opinion. He said his daughter was a little confused about her role, and he just wanted to clear that up. I thought it was a very good conversation. He wasn’t expressing any dissent or any type of problems that I was aware of.” Marshfield Superintendent Dr. Mark Mayo cited lower participation numbers as a primary reason in the

school board’s decision, as well. However, the Lady Jays fielded a roster of 16 players for the 2011-12 season, two more than the previous year. Murphy said he believes the numbers would have dramatically increased for the 2012-13 season, too. “If you do a little studying across the area, there are a lot of places that didn’t have 16 kids going out (for girls basketball),” Murphy said. “The numbers weren’t down, they were actually going up. With no seniors on the team and an (incoming) freshman class that has a lot of kids in it, we would have been up around 20 next season. “And you can have too many players out there, too. You go through periods of time when you just don’t have numbers. If you look around at a lot of other high schools, a lot of places are struggling with (participation) right now.” A similar situation occurred in Nixa in February 2008, when Randy Towe was fired after 23 years and a 410-225 overall career record. As in Murphy’s case, the blame was largely cast on a group of parents who set out on a campaign to end Towe’s career. Murphy said he was not upset at the parents, but did voice concern in the precedent set

by the school board and administration caving to outside pressure. He said he expects potential coaches will think twice before accepting a position following this situation. “From what I’ve heard, (the Nixa coaching change) went down a lot like this situation did,” Murphy said. “As a fellow coach, when someone got treated like Coach Towe did over at Nixa, it would’ve made me be very weary of that coaching job. I think there were probably some people who shied away from it because of what happened, and the same could happen here.” Murphy declined to speak on whether or not he felt the school board, along with Armstrong and Dr. Mayo, handled the situation properly. “I don’t know that I’d really want to comment on that,” he said. “The only thing I can say is how overwhelmed I am by the overall support that I got. I know this isn’t a popularity contest, and it doesn’t matter if you have the majority on your side. It comes down to those seven school board members and the school administrators. I’m not going to voice displeasure with how they handled things. I’ll let other people do that.” Tina Savas represented a large group of that overwhelm-

ing support that showed up at the March 19 meeting in support of the former coach. Savas spoke directly to the school board, pleading for Murphy’s career, but she, along with the some 200 others who rallied behind Murphy, were unable to sway the decision. Murphy said he was never offered the opportunity to defend himself in front of the school board or administrators. But he said even if given the chance, he would more than likely have turned it down. “I’ve never been one to be a politician,” he said. “I just try to do my job and be able to look myself in the mirror after every game and be able to say I tried my best. I didn’t take this job lightly.” Murphy added, “I’m very overwhelmed by the people who came to support me. When I came to Marshfield from Morrisville, this was my dream job. There was not a program anywhere in the state that was better than this one. I thought, at the time, ‘If I get this job, I’ll probably never move from it.’ That’s the way I approached it for 22 years.” In those 22 years, Murphy posted a 485-156 record — adding to his 595-189 career record — taking his teams to eight Final Fours and winning

state championships in 1991, 1996, 1997 and 1999. A handful of Murphy’s former players have signed to play basketball at various colleges, as well, including Missouri State University. Murphy’s accomplishments are enough to make him an automatic qualifier for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. One of the biggest questions that remains, however, is why Murphy’s contract as softball coach was renewed, when admittedly, he said his coaching style remains relatively the same. “I’d say that has crossed my mind some,” Murphy said. “That’s a question for the school board or Dr. Mayo to answer. What’s the difference there? I can’t answer that. I have high expectations for both programs.” When asked, however, administration declined comment on the issue. Murphy said he has not yet decided whether or not to accept the softball coaching position, saying he would like to have time to talk with his family, and discuss what’s best for the Lady Jays’ softball program. Murphy also said he needs time to process what has happened, so as not to make an emotional decision about his future.

AWARDS: Christoph ends season as fourth-leading scorer Continued from Page 1B “It’s kind of tough for guys like Tanner (Christoph),” he said. “The thing about Tanner is he gives phenomenal effort. He does stuff that doesn’t make it to the stat line. Lawfton (Summers) also did a lot of stuff for us that didn’t make the box score. It’s tough to see those guys not get recognized.” Christoph finished his senior season as the fourth-leading scorer on the team with 216 points. But it was his 8 points per game and 6 rebounds per game that Carter said was so highly valued by the Blue Jays. Summers took over point guard duties early on in the season for the Jays, averaging 6 points per game, while hauling in 2.1 boards per game. But the sophomore dished out nearly 50 assists on the season, and recorded 33 steals, as well. Losing two all-district players won’t be easy to replace, Carter said. But he’s hoping they’ve set a new precedent for Armstrong and the other young players to live up to. “For one thing, they’re all really good athletes,” Carter said. “Jared and Utah had played varsity since their freshman year. It’ll be tough to move on without them. But at the same time, I think they’ve laid the groundwork for the younger guys. “They’ll be tough to replace, but there are some other athletes that, if they work hard, they can play at that same level, too.”

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Zimmer: ‘It’s going to push me and make me tap my potential’ Continued from Page 1B Zimmer added, “They’ll probably give me some (workout) suggestions and stuff. But most of it will probably be on my own. I might take a summer class or do a work study (at Nebraska), though. I just want to get up there with their workout programs.” After having two per-

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fect seasons in a row in which he was rarely ever pushed to his limits — and never seriously faced defeat — Zimmer said he is most excited at the thought that he will be pushed to his limits at Nebraska. “Going to Nebraska,” he said, “I know I’m going to see how far I can go with it. It’s not one of those things where I can

go so far and then I’m the best. I know I’m going to meet guys better than me, and I’m going to have to overcome adversity to beat them somewhere down the road. “It’s going to push me and make me tap my potential. That’s what’s exciting. I’m going to be able to see how far I can go with this, and really see what I can do.”

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