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Longtime Nicollet coach Murphy steps away

NICOLLET — After 31 years of coaching varsity football, Nicollet head coach Tom Murphy has decided to walk away after he completed the 2020 season.

The longtime coach finished with a career record of 172-103 and his head coaching career was sidelined briefly in 2015 so he could watch his sons play football at St. Thomas.

“I had made this decision before the season started,” Murphy said. “I told our Athletic Director James Bernau before the season began that this would probably be it. It’s a lot of work and this summer was a lot trying to do strength and conditioning without a weight room because of COVID and all the extra work that went into it. Throw on top of it, my oldest son Sean is coaching now at a school in the Twin Cities, he’s the 10th grade coach at White Bear Lake and helps with their varsity. We got to a couple of his games early in the season and I just enjoyed watching him work with his team.

He said another big factor was the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the reason the football season ended last Friday, one week before the section championship games were to take place. The Raiders won their final game of the season last Friday against Cedar Mountain, giving the coach a victory in his final game.

“I know that we’ll get back to doing things somewhat normal, but it was the pressure of COVID, trying to get every game in and trying to make sure you were doing everything right, I was getting burned out and there was more reason for me to not do it than there was to do it,” the coach said. “I know football is still going to be a part of my life somehow, I just don’t know what it’s going to be. Maybe it’s just being a fan for a while. Thirty one years is a long time, and I know some guys do it longer, but there wasn’t really a reason other than to affect kids in a positive way, there wasn’t much left to accomplish.”

Murphy led the Raiders to seven section championships and he took the Raiders to three state title games. He is best known for his creative offenses that left opposing coaches and players frustrated at times and he was never afraid to try a new play that he may have seen at the college or professional level.

He said that stepping away from football will allow him and his wife Jodi to get out and do some things that he hasn’t been able to do.

“She’s been excellent, she’s been a part of football ever since we’ve been together, it was time to focus on family and I think with everything going on in the world right now, I want to make sure I can do some of those other things,” Murphy said. “If football is a part of it somehow, then great, but I’ve talked to some people who have gotten out of it and they said they miss it and they don’t. I’m going to miss most being with the kids and the coaches and the on-the-field stuff, but all the other stuff I’m not going to miss.”

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