Citing time crunch, Murphy resigns

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
After eight years working as both the football coach and assistant principal at Southridge High School, Kelly Murphy is stepping away from the football program. Murphy will funnel his focus on administration. The Southwest Dubois school board accepted his resignation at Thursday night’s meeting.

Herald Sports Editor

When Kelly Murphy arrived at Southridge High School, he was given a guarantee. It was a bit of a warning wrapped into a good-luck wish.

“(People) told me, ”˜This is not going to be easy. Just get ready,’” Murphy said.

For eight years, Murphy tackled the assistant principal job at the high school and the varsity football head coaching position — two ventures that are each demanding independent of one another. Combined, the two gigs fused to pose an exhausting task. Now, Murphy will funnel his focus on just one.

Murphy is stepping down as Raider football coach, as the Southwest Dubois School Board accepted his resignation at Thursday night’s meeting. The 38-year-old said he never saw himself exiting the coaching realm, at least not this early. But seeing the heightened demands of both jobs, he realized it was time.

“Those two things were colliding, really,” said Murphy, who will stay aboard as assistant principal. “That’s a lot, just the administration itself is a lot. In the same breath, just the head coaching is a lot. With things coming down the road in education and administration, there’s a lot to do now. Not that there wasn’t a lot to do eight years ago, but certainly there’s more things that go on.

“I’d still love to coach, I still have a desire. But it was time. It’s time for somebody else to have a chance. I’ve been very blessed to be here at Southridge.”

Still, the decision didn’t come easily for a man who realized from the time he was a kid that he wanted to coach. Prior to coming to Southridge, Murphy taught at Wood Memorial, where for a stint of a few years, he served as varsity football and baseball coach and coached seventh-grade basketball all in the same school year.

“It wasn’t (a decision) that I took lightly,” Murphy said. “I really honestly thought that I would be a lifer in coaching, that I would do this either until I died or they made me quit; something. So it was a tough decision, it certainly was.”

It made sense, though, when Murphy considered the tug of both jobs.

He commonly arrives at the office as early as 7 a.m. each day, and during football season, a typical week would have him tied up each night: for example, supervising a JV football game Monday, a volleyball match Tuesday and a middle school sporting event Thursday as part of his administrative responsibilities, with Wednesdays and Fridays devoted to coaches’ meetings and games. Coupled with that, Murphy also cited the ever-increasing demands in administration, such as completing teacher evaluations at times until 5:30 or 6 in the evening.

On Wednesdays during football season, Murphy supervised detention and didn’t hit the practice field until 4:30. He spread thanks to everyone from Superintendent Terry Enlow to principal Mike Eineman to his assistant coaches for assisting and understanding when the overlap from each job occasionally robbed his time from the other.

The fact that perhaps the busiest guy in the building passed kudos to everyone else isn’t surprising, said Raider athletic director Brett Bardwell.

“Kelly has always been a guy who it wasn’t about him; a humble guy who has always been about the kids and the program,” Bardwell said. “I’ve been in this business for about 15 years now, and I’ve learned that coaches are going to come and go, but I certainly do hate to see him get out, because he has done such a terrific job, not only on the field, but off the field.

“Kelly is one of those guys that has the whole package. Good coach, good person. You never had to worry about anything, whether it was inventory, equipment, dealing with kids, dealing with parents. He took care of that program, and you didn’t worry about him. Coaches like that are tough to find.”

Knowing that, Bardwell tried to “sway him to stay a little bit longer if he could,” Bardwell said. Murphy had just one losing season, in 2005, and followed that with a Class 2A state runner-up finish the next year. The Raiders tucked away three sectional championships from ’05 to ’07 and claimed Pocket Athletic Conference crowns in ’08 and ’11.

Murphy didn’t rule out a return to coaching down the road. In the short term, Murphy promised that he, wife Jennifer and children Devin, 11, and Ashlyn, 3, aren’t going anywhere. Murphy indicated he’d also like to work up the rungs of administration if the opportunity arises.

“This district has been very good to me and my family and I’m going to do whatever’s best for this district,” Murphy said. “If that means staying as assistant principal at the high school, that’s what I’ll do. If that means doing something else within the district, that’s what I’ll do.”

Bardwell said his hope is to keep the rest of the high school and middle school’s coaching staffs intact as much as possible. He added that there’s time to work with in filling Murphy’s vacancy and said the search will be open to both internal and external candidates. Bardwell said the ideal candidate will be “someone that will understand the tradition of Raider football and kind of appreciate it the way Kelly did.”

Murphy said his maxim was never about wins; instead he continually preached to players that “if they would just pay attention and just work hard, that the wins would take care of themselves,” he said. With a string of seven consecutive winning seasons in Huntingburg, it was mission accomplished.

“Certainly what I’m proud of is when teams played the Southridge Raiders, they knew they were in a ballgame. We played hard and we played clean and we played fair and we went out and did our job,” said Murphy, who was 66-31 in his eight seasons. “The part that I’m going to miss the most is the practice, and getting out there with the kids and watching them develop, not only physically, but also mentally, and watching them develop into a cohesive unit. That’s the part of coaching that people sometimes get wrapped up in the X’s and O’s so much that they forget about trying to take a group of individuals with different backgrounds and molding them into a team that works together. I think that we were successful in doing that.”

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