An athletic journey that started at the age of 4 in England ends this year as Rory David Murphy hangs up his soccer cleats and prepares for life after graduation. But the senior defender and captain of the Hofstra men’s soccer team is revered for more than skill in a game; he leaves behind a legacy of exemplary attitude and leadership.
Murphy’s path – which has led him through over 6,000 minutes of playing time at Hofstra – was first outlined when he was 8 years old and began playing for Reading FC Academy, the development division of the top-tier English Football League team.
It was there he would enhance his skills as a defender for eight years, eventually earning a two-year apprenticeship with Aldershot Town FC in Hampshire, where he would play all day and commit time to schoolwork on the side.
Hailing from the village of Windlesham in Surrey – south of London – the left-back came to Hofstra in hopes of starting a new chapter in his life.
“It offered both an opportunity to keep playing in a professional environment as well as having the scholarship for the school; and those two, combined with the fact that I wanted a new chapter in my life, resulted in me coming here,” Murphy said.
While scouting Murphy, Hofstra head coach Richard Nuttall saw a lot of potential.
“He was playing left-back in the video and we saw he was good athletically,” Nuttall said. “He looked as though he could move well on the field and his technical skills were good.”
Nuttall said there’s no question Murphy has delivered on physical expectations, however that’s not what impresses him most.
In fact, most people who meet Murphy, whether on or off the field, have had the same impression that, for Nuttall, precedes any opinion of athletic ability.
“I think he’s an incredible human being first and foremost, he’s a true gentleman. He’s been an exemplary leader both on and off the field,” Nuttall said. “Since the first day we met him he’s conducted himself in a manner beyond reproach.”
Murphy has done much more than attend classes, practices and games as a Division I collegiate athlete. In his four years at Hofstra, he has also represented the team as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In his junior year, he became a resident assistant (RA) in the Colonial Square residence hall, all while being in the Honors College.
His leadership has permeated the Hofstra community in a profound, yet subtle way.
“As a leader, he’s a quiet leader … but an example to all in how he conducts his life,” Nuttall said. “He’s fantastic in the classroom as well. He’s kind and caring at the same time.”
If that account isn’t convincing, when he was an RA among everything else, Murphy earned a 4.0 GPA for his entire junior year.
“Not being afraid to do stuff on your own,” Murphy cited as part of his success. “I go the library; I never really go with anyone because I know that’ll just slow me down. Sometimes I don’t eat with people, I’ll just take stuff to the library if I’ve got work to do.”
His involvement inspires his younger teammates, who look up to their captain as an example of the student-athlete they should strive to be. The eloquent leader advises them that, “time definitely goes quickly. Utilize the time both on and off the field.”
Brian Rubinaccio, the team’s sophomore goalkeeper, said, “If you can get involved with as many things as you can, without losing that quality in each one of them, that’s impressive. Rory is a perfect example of that.”
That dedication and hard-work has undoubtedly translated onto the field. In 2013 he was selected for the All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie Team and last year he earned a spot on the All-CAA third team. Murphy started in nearly all of the 72 games in which he played, a true testament to his resilience after battling a groin injury throughout.
“Offseason, he’s been injured and it didn’t prepare him as well as he could be, with his sharpness and game day fitness. So yeah, it did affect him a little bit,” Nuttall said. “Once he gets into his rhythm, he soon gets to the fitness level required.”
“I think the guys on the team really respect how he is as a person, how he is as a soccer player; he always works hard, always listens to instruction and always gives his best,” Nuttall said.
His commitment hasn’t gone unnoticed. Rubinaccio said, “He’s the guy that trains hard, he’s the guy that runs a lot. He has been one of the most important players this year.”
There was a long period of Murphy’s life when his dream was to be a professional soccer player. He was disenchanted by the injury and everything that came with it, however Murphy will not stop making an impact on those around him.
“This is not just about the soccer in life, it’s about becoming a well-rounded person, and that’s what we pride ourselves with on the soccer team,” Nuttall said. “Hopefully we’ve produced great human beings as well as good athletes – that’s what we’re striving for.”
Oscar Ramsay, a freshman midfielder, described Murphy as very dependable and consistent in all he does. “He’s probably the most encouraging on the team. I’ve never heard Rory say a bad word about anyone,” Ramsay said. “For me, he’s one of the most genuinely nice guys I’ve ever met.”
With fellow starting seniors Harri Hawkins and Joseph Holland leaving Hofstra behind, Murphy expects younger players like Ramsay, Luke Brown, Adam Savill and Nick Bigilin will be the future of the program.
As for Murphy, although he won’t pursue a professional soccer career, his prospects after graduation hardly look bleak. As a marketing major, he has already been offered a position with a major nutritional supplement distributer in New York City.
His head coach said, “The biggest advice I could give Rory is keep doing what you’re doing as a human being because he’s exemplary, hard-working, honest and incredibly responsible, and he cares about those around him.”
Rubinaccio described him as, “a great person, a great left-back, a great captain. A guy who brings that happiness to the environment, that calmness you want in the locker room.”
“The most I’m going to miss about the team is obviously playing, but other than that, the team comradery,” Murphy said. “The positive locker room talk, the banter,” he continued. “But in a good way; not in a Trump way.”