Mark Murphy knows a thing or two about sports fitness, and it shows; since becoming director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation at Northwestern University in 2003, he has helped to lead the school through two of the school’s best athletic years since it was founded. Mark Murphy puts sports fitness high on his students lists of priorities, helping them to develop the competitive edge that they need to excel athletically as well as academically. The lessons that Mark Murphy teaches about sports fitness carries over into the classroom as well, as he wants to make sure that the students in his athletic program are able to receive a great education while competing against the best of what the country has to offer in collegiate sports. He must be doing something right, because students in the 19 sports that Murphy oversees have been excelling in their fields and winning award after award ever since he took over as director.
Even before he reached Northwestern, Mark Murphy was known as a sports and fitness powerhouse from Colgate University. When Murphy took on the job of athletic director at Colgate, the athletic department was in poor shape; the men’s football team even finished their 1995 season without a single win. A former professional football player himself, Mark Murphy knew that to excel in sports, fitness had to play a key role he brought this mentality to his players, who went from their disappointing 1995 season to making three consecutive appearances in the NCAA I-AA playoffs. Other portions of Colgate’s athletic program similarly flourished, with the men’s basketball team reaching the NCAA tournament twice within his tenure, the women’s soccer team winning eight Patriot League championships and reaching the NCAA tournament three times, and the men’s softball, men’s ice hockey, and women’s volleyball teams all making NCAA tournament appearances as well. Striving to improve the players’ fitness levels to keep them at the top of their games, Murphy managed to get a new fitness center built in addition to a new stadium for field hockey and lacrosse as well as a trail for cross country training and made several improvements to existing sports and fitness facilities.
Mark Murphy’s emphasis on sports fitness and academics has served Northwestern well, allowing them to win numerous conference team titles as well as nearly two dozen individual Big Ten titles in the few short years that he has been in charge of the athletics and recreation department. The school has won multiple Coach of the Year awards, 14 Player of the Year awards, nine Freshmen of the Year awards, and has had an amazing 34 student athletes to be awarded first-team All American status. Mark Murphy’s work in sports fitness at Northwestern University is an inspiration that serves as an example of what can be accomplished with the proper emphasis on fitness in competitive sports.