As she enters the 21st season of a legendary career, head coach Digit Murphy remains as competitive and committed to winning as she has been throughout her career.
"The biggest thing for me is winning," Murphy said. "That's really all I care about right now, and I'll do whatever it takes to make my team successful."
As Bears fans know, when Coach Murphy puts her mind to something she usually makes it happen. During the 2006-07 season, she became the winningest coach in Division I women's hockey history, picking up her 300th win later in the year. Her teams have made it to the national semifinals four times, playing for the National Championship three times. She has coached Olympians and All-Americans, and captured numerous ECAC and Ivy League titles.
However, Murphy will also be the first to tell you that her job is about more than success on the ice.
"Looking back, I don't remember the score of every game," Murphy told ESPN in an interview after breaking the all-time wins record. "But I remember the notes that former players have written to me, telling me how much Brown hockey meant to them. That's why I coach. My advice to new coaches is simple: be a sponge. Learn from everyone you can. Work your butt off. In this field, if you don't love it, you can't do it."
As the coach for the oldest collegiate women's hockey team in the United States, Murphy's knowledge of the game and passion for coaching is evident. Brown's success can be attributed to the "team first" philosophy that Murphy has instituted and continues to seek in Brown recruits.
"Brown is an academic institution and we approach our team philosophy in the same way. Our kids learn life lessons through athletics," Murphy says. Incoming freshmen understand this philosophy clearly when they are recruited and continue this trademark of relentless, tireless work ethic as part of their Brown experience and into their future life experiences.
Murphy has led Brown to a record of .500 or better in 14 of her 18 seasons. In that time, Murphy has led Brown to five Ivy League titles, six ECAC regular season or tournament titles and four National Championship appearances. Murphy's players have been named Ivy League Player of the Year eight times, ECAC Player of the Year three times, Ivy and ECAC Rookie of the Year once, and ECAC Goaltender of the Year once. Seven of her players have played in the Olympics for the United States, Canada, and Japan, and four have been named All-Americans. Her players have earned 13 first team All-ECAC selections and 26 first team All-Ivy selections.
In 2004, Murphy was inducted into the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame for her accomplishments both as a coach at Brown and as a student-athlete at Cornell, where the women's hockey team's MVP award is named after her. In 2001, members of the media awarded Murphy the New England Hockey Writers' Coach of the Year award, and in 1997 Murphy's fellow coaches and the media honored her with both the ECAC/KOHO and the New England Hockey Writers' Coach of the Year awards. Murphy was also the first female to reach the 200-win plateau.
In the summer of 2004, Murphy coached the U.S. National team at the Lake Placid Olympic Festival, where Brown University was represented by eight of the 60 players. In October 1996, she coached the U.S. National Team as an assistant at the Three Nations Tournament. She has also coached at the Junior National level in Lake Placid for eight years, and was a member of the 1998 Olympic Selection Committee. In 1992, her well-respected hockey talents earned her the position of assistant coach for the U.S. Women's Ice Hockey National Team. Under Head Coach Russ McCurdy, she helped lead the U.S. to a silver medal in Finland.
Besides coaching, Murphy has used her charismatic personality to great effect in covering women's hockey for the media in various capacities, including as a color analyst for Turner Broadcasting coverage of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. She was also a color analyst at the 2004 Women's Ice Hockey World Championships for CSTV and the 2000 Women's Ice Hockey World Championships for Oxygen Media. During the 1997-98 season, Lifetime Television contracted her as a color analyst for the first-ever women's hockey broadcast of the Four Nations Cup game between the US and Canada.
Among many professional accomplishments, Murphy is most proud of the ongoing grassroots growth of women's ice hockey and the development of female athletes and coaches. Murphy was the primary source for the start of the Rhode Island Girls' High School Hockey, which was the first girls' developmental hockey league that mentored players and developed new and inexperienced coaches.
A 1983 graduate of Cornell University, Murphy was a four-year letter winner for the Big Red women's ice hockey team. She captained the team as a junior and senior, and earned All-Ivy honors in each of her four seasons. In 1981, she earned the crowning achievement of her playing career when she was named the Ivy League Player of the Year. As one of the all-time leading scorers at Cornell, Murphy had a total of 123 goals and 90 assists for 213 points. She was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. Prior to Cornell, Murphy played hockey locally for the Cranston Panthers of the South Shore Women's Hockey League.
Upon graduating from Cornell with a degree in Business Economics, Murphy worked for Data General Corporation as a production manager. In 1988, she decided to leave the business world and devote herself to full-time coaching. Before assuming the head-coaching job at Brown, she assisted under Steven Shea at Brown.
Murphy, a native of Rhode Island, resides in Providence with her partner and four children.
Coach Murphy's Team Highlights:
• 1993-1994: Led the Bears to a perfect 10-0-0 record in the Ivy League, the first time Brown had done that since Ivy play began in the 1983-84 season.
• 1994-1997: The Bears won three consecutive ECAC regular season championships, going undefeated in the league in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. In a stretch from the 1994-95 to the 1996-97 seasons, Brown went undefeated in 49 ECAC games.
• 1996-1997: Brown finished 28-2-1 overall, cruising through the ECAC (22-0-0) and Ivy League (10-0-0). The Bears won 28 consecutive games. Katie King '97 was named ECAC Player of the Year, and Tara Mounsey '02.5 was named ECAC Rookie of the Year.
• 1997-1998: Brown upset New Hampshire to win the ECAC Championship, the first time the team won the ECAC tournament. The Bears advanced to the AWCHA Championship before falling to UNH.
• 1999-2000: Brown finished at 25-4-3, the team's fourth consecutive season with at least 20 wins, winning both the ECAC regular season and tournament championships. The Bears advanced to the AWCHA Championship before falling 4-2 to Minnesota. Goaltender Ali Brewer '00 was awarded the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award as the outstanding performer in NCAA Division I women's varsity ice hockey. The team maintained a number one national ranking for much of the season, finishing the season at number two.
• 2001-2002: Finished 25-8-2 after 3-6-1 start, going one 12-game stretch without losing. After winning the ECAC Tournament, Brown advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Frozen Four by defeating the #1-ranked University of Minnesota in the semifinals. The team fell to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in the National Championship game.
• 2006-2007: Became the winningest coach in Division I women's college hockey history, picking up her 293rd win in a 3-1 Brown victory over Boston University to pass John Marchetti. Later in the season, Murphy became the third collegiate women's hockey coach to win 300 games, as the Bears beat Union, 6-0.
• Murphy maintains a winning record on all accounts, currently at 306-179-48 overall, 105-69-18 in the Ivy League and 217-114-31 in the ECAC.