Gene Murray was always an athlete. He played football at Butler University in the early ‘90s and joined an adult travel softball team after college. But coaching high school volleyball? He had to start from scratch with that one.
Murray was an administrator at Tindley Accelerated Schools in 2012 when he helped start the volleyball program. The only problem was they couldn’t find a coach. Murray found a teacher with some coaching experience who said she would do it as long as he was the assistant coach.
Then came the YouTube videos and coaching clinics. He paid attention to how his oldest daughter, Lauren, and her teams played to learn the rules first and then the strategy.
The Murrays are a volleyball family now.
Gene coached at Tindley for six years and North Central High School for two years. He’s currently the head coach of the freshman team at Cathedral High School, his alma mater, and coaches a 13-year-old team at Rev Volleyball Academy. Lauren coaches an 18-year-old team at Rev and is an assistant at DePauw University. She coached with her dad at Cathedral and won three sectional championships as a player at Tindley.
“He has taught me a lot about the game,” Lauren said of coaching with her dad. “Just to be able to be alongside him learning, even though I’m still coaching, is a big thing.”
The Murrays have come a long way in volleyball. Back when Gene was just trying to learn some of the basics to help get Tindley’s program going, Lauren had been playing for a few years at SportZone and Team Indiana.
Sydney, Murray’s middle daughter, plays at North Central, where she’s a senior, and said she has some potential college offers on the way. London, the youngest, is in seventh grade and plays volleyball. Both also play at Rev.
“It’s been a really big part of our lives,” Sydney said.
That passion runs through the family now. Gene has a reputation for being an intense coach, and Sydney said that’s rubbed off on her. When her volleyball team lost its first game at SportZone when she was 7, her mom, Alicia, said she tried consoling Sydney and told her it would be OK.
“She yelled back at me, ‘It’s not OK!’” Alicia said, something the family still laughs about.
Her dad coaches with that same energy, Sydney said.
“He doesn’t take somebody not giving 100%,” she said. “He’s gonna push you to do your best every single time in practice and in games.”
Volleyball has been a gift in many ways for the Murrays, but it makes for some stressful times too. Alica said there are some weekends when she’s with Sydney in Kansas, Gene and Lauren are coaching in St. Louis, and London relies on her grandparents to get her to a tournament at home.
Alicia said there were times she regretted that everyone took the volleyball route, but now she sees how her daughters and husband have thrived.
“I think the greatest enjoyment I’ve found over the years is watching them grow,” she said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at email@example.com or 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.