Nicollet’s Football Family
Murphy family bonds through football camps
Their dad, Tom Murphy, is the longtime coach of the program who has given the community a 9-man football identity as a state powerhouse. Tom Murphy, who recently took over as the head football coach at Nicollet, is teaming up with his sons for the Murphy Brothers Football Camps. After graduating from Nicollet High School, both Sean and Travis played college football at St. Thomas University. Now, they’re trying to get younger kids interested in a sport that has seen a decrease in numbers because of injury concerns.
The camp, in its third year, is aimed to get younger players exposure to football. It concentrates on the basics for the younger levels, grades 1-4, and it becomes more position specific at the older levels, grades 5-9.
A football family
Tom has been a successful coach and he is returning to the sidelines this year after stepping down a few years ago. Tom’s resume includes a career record of 155-91 at Nicollet and he coached the Raiders to seven state tournaments in 24 season. The Raiders were state runners-up three times. He’s also coached 35 players that have gone on to play college football.
Tom also ran a summer camp for a long time, which is where so many players in Nicollet learned the basics of the sport.
Sean graduated from Nicollet in 2012 and he was a part of three state tournament teams, including a 9-man runner-up finish in 2009. At St. Thomas, he played on three MIAC championship teams and he played in the DIII national championship game twice.
Travis graduated from Nicollet in 2015 and he played on three state tournament teams. He played wide receiver his freshman year at St. Thomas and he’s currently the head student-filmer. He’s entering his senior year there.
Sean and Travis decided to follow in Tom’s footsteps and started up their camp in 2016. The numbers have grown and there are three locations this summer.
“I think that first year, I was looking for a summer job,” Sean said. “Living in Nicollet, football has always been a big part of our family, playing for our dad. Football camps were a big thing for us growing up and I just saw a need for that. Nicollet didn’t really have anything like that at the time so we decided to put our camp together.”
The first camp will be in Nicollet from June 11-14, then it goes to the turf surface at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School in Janesville from June 18-21. The Murphys wrap up their summer instruction camps in Arlington (Sibley East High School) from July 9-12.
The camp is something that Travis and Sean naturally decided to do. After throwing out some ideas about how they wanted to run it, the camp took shape in 2016.
“Our dad, growing up, he used to be the head coach so it was something that all three of us thought up,” Travis said. “The first two years, we had a lot of success so we tried to expand it and we’ve had a lot of success so far.”
From athletes to teachers
Neither Sean or Travis are playing football these days, but they’re both still competitive and naturally, teaching football was next for them.
The original idea of the camp was to get younger kids out and expose them to football. In a sport that is rapidly losing numbers, especially at the 9-man and Class A levels, the brothers wanted to put a positive spin on football.
They focused on introducing the skills and drills for the younger players while the older players got into more specifics, such as key drills for each specific position on the field.
Most important, Sean said that the camps is geared for any level of football, beginner or experienced players.
“It could be your first time playing football, you could have played for multiple years, flag or tackle, but at that higher level, we do offense and defense,” Sean said. “Kids get to pick up to two positions they want to focus on and we spend half the time doing offensive stuff and half the time doing defensive stuff. We had kids who never played football and we’ve had kids with experience, but honestly you couldn’t tell the difference, they were just out there having fun and learning.”
Most important, they wanted to show how fun the game is and the goal was to have fun at the camps while teaching the basics.
“That was just our mindset from the beginning,” Sean said. “We just wanted to give these kids and opportunity to be with each other and learn the game of football.”
Travis said that the ideas taught at the camp are a mix of skills learned from both high school and college. Their challenge was to mix those skills into one camp.
“We’ve both taken a lot and we both take things out of a successful program at St. Thomas,” Travis said. “We incorporated some of that, just the hustle and working hard, like a team effort. We learned a lot from our dad from when he was coaching and how we coach players. It’s really great that all three of us are on the same page with what we want to do and how we want to do it.”
Although it can be difficult to get younger kids out for football in some smaller towns, Nicollet typically has always had decent numbers in the varsity program and the team’s success all of those years is a big reason why.
Although it’s just the third year of the camp, both would like to carry the camp on as long as possible, as well as coaching at some level.
“I think it’s something that we want to keep doing, we both aspire to coach in our future,” Travis said. “With the fact that we are both going toward education for our career, the summers are a great time to make some money doing what we love and being around the game with a younger generation.”
Sean said that a town rallies behind its football team. That’s always been the case in Nicollet and he wants the younger athletes to have the same experiences that he had growing up.
“Growing up in a small town, I think football can be a great opportunity for a town to come together and that was such a cool experience that I had, it’s something that I want these kids to have, to have that opportunity to have success and have the town rally behind them,” Sean said.
2018 Murphy Brothers Football Camps
Nicollet High School
When: June 11-14
Ages: 1-4 grade, 5-9 grade
JWP High School
When: June 18-21
Where: JWP (Janesville)
Ages: 1-4 grade, 5-9 grade
Sibley East High School
When: July 9-12
Ages: 1-4 grade, 5-9 grade