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Thinking Outside The Box - Blog 13

Mike Murphy is in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Army lacrosse team. Under his tutelage, the Black Knights have consistently been ranked among the nation's top defenses, while he has also guided some of the most prolific goalkeepers in Academy history. A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Murphy graduated from New Hampshire in 1996 where he was a three-year lacrosse letterman for the Wildcats.

April 12, 2011


The last two blogs I wrote how I had struggled finding the right words to use to recap the previous week and preview the current one.  Needless to say there was no such trepidation this week; it was quite easy.

Before we get into the above, let’s take a quick look back at the week that was. I was a little selfish and self-serving last week as we talked about the blog turning one and my son, well, just being my son.

Needless to say, Colin’s mom and his bevy of babysitters were thrilled for the “shout-outs.”  

Last week was a very typical week, with Monday off from practice, the staff really dove into the Bucknell film and the game plan was implemented early in the week. The team was full of energy as practice began on Tuesday. It seemed like we really matched up well against the Bison. As the week wore on, the guys were getting hungry for game day. We had a good week of practice. However, as it concluded on Friday, we got an unusual visit from our sports supervisor.

Gene McIntyre, our long time Admissions Support Director came out to practice just as the guys concluded and began the post-practice stretch. I happened to be the first coach he saw, and he proceeded to inform me that if the Federal Government shut down, our game along with the other varsity athletic events would be cancelled.


He informed Coach Alberici and also let him know that our administration would reach out to Bucknell and the Patriot League and inform them of the situation as well.

The three service academies had agreed that they would cancel varsity athletics if the budget was not passed. 

I went home to a very empty house after practice on Friday. Earlier that day, I brought Jen and Colin to the airport. They were off to Iowa to see Jen’s family. I know Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie Cassie were excited to see the little guy. Though I was not too thrilled they were gone … little coach Murphy had not missed a home game this season!  And the outcome may have been influenced as such.  But I digress!

As I settled down to some leftovers for dinner and the Navy vs. Maryland lacrosse game, I began to flip back and forth to CNN, MSNBC and FOX News to see what was going on with the budget. 

Needless to say, they passed the budget around 11:00 p.m. and the game was on. Good job Republicans and Democrats – way to get it done!

Saturday’s Bucknell game was very exciting. A great game to watch as a fan in the stands, the game went back-and-forth. Even with limited scoring, the action was coming fast and furious. We jumped out to an early lead, but let them back into it. The first half was closely contested. Both teams were making big-time plays. The half ended with Bucknell up one. The second half was more of the same. The Bison extended their lead to 7-4 midway through the third, but our guys came charging back and got within a second of tying the game going into the fourth. 

We had chances to tie the game numerous times, but the Bucknell goalie was outstanding, making highlight-reel saves to preserve the victory for his team.

A tough loss, but there is no time to dwell on the past. We have to learn from the good and bad of Saturday and move on to the next one.

Congrats to #9 for another outstanding performance. Garrett was our player of the game. Senior Rob McCallion was selected for PPOW. Rob had a great week of practice in preparation for the Bison and has been doing a great job all season.

Ah! The next one...the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy. 

Before I get into it, I would like to congratulate Army baseball, men’s track and men’s tennis for capturing their “stars” for victories over Navy this past weekend. 

There is nothing quite like a rivalry game. Except this one is not a battle of “arch” enemies. Army vs. Navy is not that simple. It’s a the quest for bragging rights and the joy of knowing you triumphed over the one person or team that you share the most respect for, even if you won’t admit it. You may not like them, they may not like you, but you both know you would not be who you are without them.
I have had the great pleasure to be around three great rivalries. Many would argue these three are the most storied rivalries in sports. I lived in North Carolina for four years and was surrounded by Duke vs. Carolina basketball. Then, I moved to Ohio and got to witness Ohio State vs. Michigan football. The third one you may have heard of … Red Sox-Yankees! Being a Boston guy, living in the Empire state is not easy.

I would argue that Army vs. Navy transcends them all! The two college rivalries are more central to the alums of those schools. Sure, other fans get excited. I know plenty of Duke Basketball fans that did not go to Duke and still get excited over the rivalry and vice versa. Army vs. Navy is more than a rivalry between two schools, it’s a family affair. 

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is close to Army vs. Navy because it involves more people. Heck, our Ohio guys refer to Ohio State football as “we” when they are talking about the football game. I can remember going for a jog the morning of the football game and an elderly Buckeye fan ask me, “What are you doing? The game is about to start!”

All the rivalries have been magnified in recent years with books and movies, the growing popularity of college football and basketball, as well as the resurgence of Major League Baseball.

But Army-Navy can be likened to a clash of ideology. Its tanks vs. jets, Delta’s vs. SEALs, Rangers vs. Marines. The other rivalries, you can talk about public vs. private, state pride or just regional pride.  Army-Navy is global! It’s the want for global bragging rights. Now when I say global, I mean the fan base.  I think the Army vs. Navy fan base is a little broader then the other three. The fans in Iowa don’t really care too much about Ohio State-Michigan, the folks in Kentucky may argue their blue is a little more true than Carolina‘s, and I know Cardinal fans think both Red Sox and Pinstripes pale in comparison to their tussle with the Cubs.

When you talk Mules vs. Goats more people have some connection. The former Navy officer wants his Mids to win so he can rub it in the face of his buddies’ kid who happens to coach at West Point. Isn’t that right, Doctor Bill?  

The bragging rights to an Army vs. Navy win echo from butter bars to stars, and from FOBs to aircraft carriers. 

The connection between the two schools runs across this globe like the veins through the human body. And for the young people who compete in these “Star” matches, the wins and the stars are badges of honor and mementos of victory.

The students of the two institutions are more than just track athletes, lacrosse players or football players; they are the future leaders of our great country. They will sacrifice for the good of a nation, and they do it with far less fanfare then we give to folks like Kyrie Irving, Tyrell Pryor and Alex Rodriquez. 

The young men and women who graduate from the Academies are our best and brightest. Some will pay the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedoms that many of us take for granted.

If you need a great summer read, I would recommend Lone Survivor. It’s the story of Marcus Luttrell and his Seal team in Afghanistan.  There is a part in that book that shows the competitive nature of the Army-Navy rivalry. The rivalry is more than just touchdowns, homeruns or goals, it’s about being the best of the best. 

Eighty nine times the Midshipmen of Navy and the Black Knights of Army have competed on a lacrosse field in friendly strife. Most don’t know that lacrosse is the only sport indigenous to North America. The North American Indians referred to the game as “little brother of war” as it was “played” to help young men train for battle.

The name lacrosse was derived from a Jesuit missionary as he described the chief implement used during an early “game.” The old wooden stick used to catch and throw the “ball,” he thought resembled a bishop’s crozier. 

How ironic that our young men, being educated in what is needed to serve a nation at war, will play a game that has its root in preparing men for such things.

On Saturday, April 16, the 2011 version of Army lacrosse will look to make their mark on the history that is Army vs. Navy. 

Remember gentlemen, only one team can sing last!

Go Army!  Beat Navy!

“If you want unusual results, you need unusual behavior.”

Coach Murph

Previous Entries

Oct. 14, 2010
Jan. 27, 2011
Feb. 4, 2011
Feb. 10, 2011
Feb. 14, 2011
Feb. 22, 2011
March 1, 2011
March 8, 2011
March 15, 2011
March 22, 2011
March 29, 2011
April 5, 2011


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