Christal Murphy resigns as Amherst girls basketball coach
Amherst girls basketball head coach Christal Murphy Purchase photo reprints »
Amherst head coach Christal Murphy huddles with her team at the third quarter break of the Div. 1 State Championship against defending champions Andover with the score tied at 45. The Hurricanes could not keep up in the fourth quarter and lost 61-51 to the Golden Warriors. Purchase photo reprints »
GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Christal Murphy has resigned as the head coach of the Amherst Regional girls basketball team. Purchase photo reprints »
For the first time in nearly 20 years, Christal Murphy won’t be spending most of her winter on basketball.
Murphy has resigned as head coach of the Amherst Regional girls basketball team after a tremendous six-year run that included a Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament championship in 2011.
“It was a very difficult decision, a decision I didn’t want to have to make. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off,” Murphy said.
Murphy, who is an educational team leader and special education teacher at Westfield High School, lives in Ludlow, and said the commute and continuing her own education were key factors in her decision.
“I thought she would be coming back this year, but I understand that she’s making some career choices at this point and needs to focus her energy on that side of things,” Amherst athletic director Rich Ferro said. “Obviously, we are really disappointed because she’s great.
“The girls loved her,” he added. “The basketball community loved her. She was very successful and I would have loved to see her continue with us and rebuild with this next group of young ladies coming up.”
Murphy recently earned a post-master’s degree license for administration in special education and is currently working on becoming licensed to be an assistant principal and principal.
“It is going to be very difficult for me when the weekend of Thanksgiving comes around and I’m not getting ready to start practice,” she said. “I know it will definitely hit me and it will definitely be hard. Basketball has been part of my life full-time since I was 12 years old. I probably had two or three days off all winter for many, many years.”
Murphy, a former standout player at Minnechaug Regional and American International College, had never been a varsity coach before taking the Amherst job in the 2006-07 season.
“When I took the Amherst job, I didn’t really know much about Amherst except that it was a great town and a great school system,” she said. “I was just so lucky for six years to be a part of Amherst High School and representing the Hurricane family.”
She added, “I was so lucky and blessed to have such supportive parents, fellow coaches and administration. The support there was unbelievable and the kids were such great students and great people. It’s so hard to walk away from such a great situation.”
Murphy took over a program that had gone 1-19 the previous season. Her teams posted a record of 99-35 over the following six years, reaching the postseason each time.
The Hurricanes went to the state final in 2011 and Murphy earned numerous coaching awards.
“She’s got that combination of things. She was able to be tough with the girls when she needed to be tough with them, but they respected her,” Ferro said. “She knew the game. She has all the things that make a good coach that you don’t often get. Obviously, that’s the type of person I’m looking for” to replace her.
Ferro said the position is currently posted on SchoolSpring.com and he hopes to begin interviewing in the next few weeks.
“I would love to find another strong, successful woman to come in,” he said. “It’s important for us to have someone who is a good role model for our young ladies.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.