Vancouver, BC: The parting words of Steph Murphy's high school rugby coach Ken Asano to his graduates were "if you've had fun and love rugby, then give back." Murphy took those words to heart and for the last 12 years has been instrumental in growing women's rugby in British Columbia. After a busy year of coaching both at the provincial level with British Columbia's under-20 team and with United Rugby Club, BC Rugby is proud to recognize Steph Murphy through the First XV Volunteer Appreciation Program.
After playing club rugby for Burnaby Lake and Simon Fraser University, Murphy saw the need to expand women's rugby and took her efforts East to help found the Pocomo's rugby program in 2000. After playing and volunteering with the club, Murphy played a key role in Pocomo's merger with Douglas College to form United Rugby Club in 2005. Murphy has since served United Rugby Club both on and off the pitch but in recent years has taken on more of a management role through coaching and holding executive positions.
"Steph has made United proud as a coach for the Lower Mainland and BC representative teams," said United's Vice President Alex Allen. "She served on Pocomo's executive for many years as Clubhouse Manager and won service awards for the countless hours she put into the club. Steph has also coached the U19 girls for both Pocomo and United for many years."
This past Spring, Murphy coached United's senior women's team to the provincial semifinals where her squad fell to eventual champs Burnaby Lake. During the 2011 Fall season, Murphy coached United's Tier One side to the Lower Mainland Bowl Championship and her Tier Two side finished as Bowl runners-up. Murphy has also spent countless summers volunteering her time with age grade rugby in British Columbia.
"Steph is passionate about the women's game and she has done a massive amount of club work with United and worked closely with local schools," said BC Rugby Provincial Coach and Development Manager Dave Brown. "She has spent two years as assistant coach to Jason Young with the U19 women and won two silver medals at Ottawa ('08) and Toronto ('09). Steph then took over the U19s in 2010 and won bronze in Calgary. Last year the program transitioned to the new U20 team and won bronze at the National Women's League finals in Vancouver after two nail-biting losses to Alberta and Ontario ."
We caught up with our December First XV Volunteer and this is what she had to say...How long have you been involved as a volunteer with rugby?
"I have been a volunteer with rugby since 2000 in many different capacities. Coached high school, age grade, regional, provincial, BC Summer Games and Senior Club. As a coordinator for the U18 girls league from 2005-2010. As a club executive from 2000-2009 as women's director, bar manager, secretary and vice president."Why is volunteering important to you and why have you dedicated so many hours to the United and provincial programs?
"The parting words of my highschool rugby coach Ken Asano, to his graduates were- if you've had fun and love rugby- then give back. I took those words to heart and have always been grateful for the lifelong friends, colleagues, and stewards of the game that I have met along the way! Rugby teams and programs don't happen by accident, they are cultivated by volunteers at the grass roots trying to grow love of the game.
"To me there is no greater accomplishment than seeing the growth of rugby in our province. I think often about those words regarding giving back. It doesn't matter if you are the one cleaning the clubhouse after an event, lining the field in the rain so the game can be played, organizing clothing orders, balancing the budget, or coaching- it's all for the love of the game."What is the secret to balancing so many hours of rugby with your professional life?
"I certainly don't know the secret, if there is one I'd love to hear it! It's always hard to balance anything with your passion."Can you tell us a bit about your playing career? How did you first get involved with United?
"I started playing rugby in high school at Centennial in Coquitlam. While in highschool I also