The state of Connecticut’s newest college coach is an old, familiar face.
Ken Murphy ’76 – who played on 3 straight FCIAC championship teams, 1 state champion squad, and was a 2-time All-State and 1-time All-New England pick – has been hired for the head spot at Connecticut College. He is only the 2nd soccer coach in Camel history. Bill Lessig retired this spring, after 42 years at the helm.
During his Staples springs, Murphy played on the Westport PAL team (forerunner of the Westport Soccer Association and premier squads) that won 3 U-19 state championships. In 1975, Westport was a US Youth Soccer Region I finalist. Murphy was also a 2-time All-FCIAC player for Staples’ ice hockey team.
At the University of Connecticut, Murphy was named to the All-Yankee Conference team 3 times, and the All-New England squad twice. He led the Huskies to 3 New England championships, 2 Yankee Conference crowns, and 2 NCAA Elite 8 appearances.
Drafted by both the Hartford Hellions (Major Indoor Soccer League) and Detroit Express (North American Soccer League), Murphy chose the outdoor game. He played with the Express from 1979-81, then joined the Washington Diplomats. In D.C., he played alongside Johan Cruyff.
After retiring from professional soccer, Murphy worked in accounting with ABC and CBS Records, as well as for E.F. Hutton and as a broker for several commercial energy shops. He also spent 10 seasons coaching youth soccer in Fairfield. In 2003 Murphy joined the coaching staff at Brown University. During his stint there the Bruins won 3 Ivy League championships. Murphy also won 3 state championships coaching the Bruno United Futbol Club.
With his older brothers Dennis ’73 and Ed ’74, and younger brother Kevin ’77, Ken was part of 1 of the most formidable soccer families in Westport history. His mother, Mary, taught Spanish for many years at Bedford Junior High School. His dad, Ed, was a famed Little League coach.
Ken and his wife Pam have kept their Fairfield home. Their daughters, Kahley and Erin, were soccer stars at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Kahley now plays at Rhode Island College, while Erin is at the College of Charleston.
Connecticut College — from which Chris Meinke ’05 recently graduated — is “a great fit for me, and for our family,” Murphy says. His wife grew up 5 minutes from campus, in Waterford, and still has family there.
The school conducted a national search to replace Lessig, the founder of the Camels’ program. “After 6 years at Brown, it was my goal to have my own program,” Murphy notes.
“I like the philosophy of the institution, and of NESCAC (New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference) soccer. There are restrictions about off-season play, funding for recruiting and high academic standards, so we’ll be looking for athletes who can play straightaway.”
In a team meeting during the interview process, Murphy talked about “creating the right culture, with people who are committed to the team.”
At Brown, he says, “I learned how important confidence, and believing in yourself, is. Last year Conn College was 2-1-1 against the top of the table. Our schedule this year is not easy — we’ve got Babson and Keene State as non-league games — but I’m really excited.”
UConn head coach Ray Reid said: “Ken was a great UConn player and is the right man to hire at Conn College. He will do a great job, and get the team very competitive within the league.”
The challenges of a Division III school like Connecticut College are different than the D-I schools Murphy played and coached at. But soccer is soccer. He looks forward to running his own program, competing in the very tough NESCAC – and being, once again, part of the Connecticut soccer scene.
And the Staples connection?
“I’ll be watching!” he promises — as an alum, a fan, and a coach seeking high quality, intelligent and committed players.