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Fastpitch Coach: Q&A
Name: Patrick Murphy, Head Softball Coach, University of Alabama
Number of years in this position: Starting year two.
Overall won-lost record at present position: 39-26.
Previous Softball Head or assistant softball coaching positions: Five years assistant coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette* (1990-94), Interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State University (1995), assistant coach, University of Alabama (1997-98) *formerly University of Southwestern Louisiana.
Other accomplishments: NCAA Regionals, 1999 (Alabama); SEC Tournament champions, 1998 (Alabama); College World Series, 1993 (UL-Lafayette).
Undergraduate Alma Mater and year graduated: University of Northern Iowa, 1989.
Postgraduate degrees: Master of Science, UL-Lafayette, 1992.
Q: When did you know you wanted to coach fastpitch softball and how did you get started?
PM: I got started coaching softball by chance. I was in graduate school at UL-Lafayette and Yvette Girouard needed an assistant after a late resignation. It was August and I had just finished coaching a high school baseball team to the state championship game in Iowa. I guess Girouard was desperate and asked if I would be interested. I said, "why not?". We had a great year and hosted NCAA Regionals for the first time (we were 44-8 that season). I don't know how I did everything that first year. I was working in the sports information office, going to graduate school, working on my thesis and coaching softball. I got hooked after that season!
Q: Who have you learned the most from and what did you learn?
PM: Obviously, I learned the most from Girouard. She did everything by the book in a very intense tough-love atmosphere. She had great discipline on all her teams and I am trying to duplicate that with our Alabama teams. I go to baseball and softball clinics all the time and continue to learn every day.
Q: What do you think you do best as a coach?
PM: I think I get the most out of the least. I guess since I was always an underdog, I take to the player who doesn't have as much talent but is willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve her goals. This is usually the player who you keep in contact with over the years and appreciates her college experience more than anyone else on the team.
Q: What would you change, if anything, about the recruiting process?
PM: I would like to see less negative recruiting. I am amazed that we are already starting to act like football and basketball coaches when it comes to recruiting. At Alabama, we try to present all the positives about our school and hope that they outweigh the competition.
Q: If there is one NCAA rule or procedure change you would like to see adopted, what would it be?
PM: To repeal the recruiting rule of 50 evaluations.
Q: When recruiting, what's the first thing you look for in a player? What's the second thing?
PM: Position players, her swing. Second, her throwing motion. Pitchers, ball movement. Second, a positive attitude.
Q: What makes for a successful season?
PM: Having a team go through the four stages of team building and come out with great team chemistry.
Q: What do you think was the best coaching job you ever did?
PM: My first year at Alabama as assistant coach. I learned patience that year, as we had four team members who had never played fastpitch before. We finished 29-29 and played a pretty tough schedule.
Q: What was your greatest moment as a coach?
PM: There were two. First, as an assistant at UL-Lafayette in 1993 at the College World Series. We finished taking batting practice on the upper field at the Hall of Fame Stadium and began the walk down the hill to our dugout. The roar of the UL-Lafayette fans was so loud that it make most of us cry. Girouard and I looked at each other and, although neither one of us said anything, we both knew that that moment was the reason why we were in the coaching profession. Second, as head coach at Northwest Missouri State, we drew Missouri Southern in the first round of the conference tournament. They had run-ruled us and shut us out twice during the regular season. We came in with a game plan and it worked. We won 8-0 and run-ruled the No. 1 team in the nation! The reaction of the team was the best. Lots of tears and laughter and satisfaction in knowing that they carried out the game plan to perfection.
Q: What was your worst moment as a coach?
PM: I was coaching high school baseball for the last time in Iowa and had a great team. We won the conference and district championships but lost 2-1 in the substate finals. I was crushed. I didn't leave the house for a week.
Q: What is funniest/strangest/most memorable experience you and your team have had on the road?
PM: My team at Northwest Missouri State played the best April Fool's joke on me during our first big road trip. They had me believing that half the team had gotten food poisoning from eating breakfast that morning. I was so upset and worried that I pulled into a hotel parking lot and told the "sick" players that I would get them a room for the day and then after the games we would pick them up and drive to the next site. As soon as I started for the lobby, one of the seniors let me in on the joke. They played it to perfection!
Q: What's your take on the bat and ball issue? Are the balls or bats at fault, or both, or neither? Is there a problem? If so, what would you like to see done?
PM: I'm not sure that there is a problem with the bats and balls. I guess it's just the times. People are making better products that perform better. As a coach, how can you complain?
Q: What do you love most about coaching?
PM: The opportunity to form a large number of people (players, parents and support staff) into one big family. It's awesome the positive influence one person can have on a group of people.
Q: What do you love least about coaching?
PM: The struggles with time. I am not very patient and want things done yesterday.
Q: Please complete this sentence: "My coaching career has been successful if the majority of my players.....
PM: ...look back on their careers and say, 'I am so happy that I chose Alabama'."
Q: Who was the best player you've ever coached against?
PM: Lisa Fernandez, UCLA pitcher. She beat UL-Lafayette 1-0 in the 1993 World Series.
Q: Which is the best team you've ever coached against?
PM: Arizona, 1993 national champions. They had so many weapons on offense and Susie Parra had a great year pitching.
Q: If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, all expenses paid, where would you go?
PM: Sydney, Australia, for the 2000 Olympics.
Q: What haven't you done yet in your life that you still want to do?
PM: Get married and have two kids, one softball player and one baseball player.
Q: What advice would you give to young people who want to coach softball?
PM: Make lots of contacts and work as many summer camps as you can. Coaches will see you in action and be able to make an informed decision on your talents.
Q: If you weren't coaching softball, what would you be doing?
PM: Coaching baseball.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
PM: Field of Dreams.
Q: Who is your favorite movie star?
PM: Edward Norton.
Q: What is your favorite television show?
PM: Anything on ESPN or MTV.
Q: What is your favorite song?
PM: We are the Champions.
Q: What is your favorite food?
PM: Pepperoni and mushroom pizza, thin crust.
Q: Your favorite book?
PM: Tuesdays with Morrie.
Q: When "The One Great Scorer comes to write against your name", what would you like to see written there?
PM: "He left the world a better place and he was a damn good coach."