Millbrook High School 15-year-old sophomore
Sport: Cross country
Parents: Will and Sarah Murphy
What do you love about cross country: I love how there’s an individual and a team aspect. You can set goals for yourself PR-wise, and for the team you can set goals to make it to regionals or states. There’s a really nice balance.
Most memorable moment in cross country: Regionals [at Kernstown Battlefield] last year when we made it to states as a team. We just squeaked in by taking third place. (The Pioneers grabbed the last qualifying spot by five points over Tuscarora.) Going to states as a team was such a memorable experience because we were worried about our performance during the race. I’ll never forget the emotion and surprise that was present when we all found out we were going to states.
Most embarrassing moment in cross country: Before cross country states last year, I was overwhelmed and overcome with emotion before heading to the start line, because it was my first state race ever. It was such a surreal moment. I tried to contain myself, but my nerves caused me to get upset. Trying to cover up my emotions was definitely embarrassing. (Murphy recovered well, placing fourth in 18 minutes, 22 seconds which was the fastest time for an area girl in the 26-year history of state competition at Great Meadow.)
Most difficult moment in cross country: For me personally, it’s finding the confidence to make a move during a race or going out with a confident approach. Cross country and track are such mental sports, and there’s always plans inside me that are running through my head. Trying to find that ‘want to go’ can be difficult.
Three people you can have dinner with, dead or alive: My great-grandma Gretchen who I never met; she absolutely loved music just like I do. She played the piano, which is one of my favorite pastimes to do when I get the chance. Michelle Obama; she is such an inspiration to all. She’s accomplished so much throughout her life, being the first lady and helping those who are less fortunate. And Kelly Clarkson; her music is amazing and she has an outstanding voice. She always has a positive outlook on life that lifts other’s spirits. Her personality shines in everything she does, whether it’s through her music or how she interacts with those that look up to her.
Biggest athletic influence: Taylor Ewert, a freshman at the University of Arkansas. She’s accomplished so much in the last year, between being the Gatorade National Track & Field Athlete of the Year and holding various records. I’ve been keeping up with her on Instagram and YouTube and everything. She has an approach to running that is a lot like mine, because she comes in with a plan and a goal before each race. Her posts on Instagram inspired me to keep going during quarantine.
Who’s your favorite teacher: Ms. Jennifer Joyce. She was my seventh-grade math teacher [at Admiral Byrd Middle School]. Math has never been my strongest subject, but she was always there to bring out the best in me. She never gave up on me as an individual. She was always the sweetest person.
Favorite athlete: Taylor Ewert
Favorite sports team: JMU Dukes
Favorite movie: “The Avengers” movies
Favorite TV show: “The Middle”
Favorite song: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
Favorite food: Sushi
Worst thing you’ve eaten: Raw oysters. I prefer them steamed.
Plans after high school: I haven’t looked into many colleges yet, but I think JMU or [Virginia] Tech would be my top two. I would love to run on their cross country and track teams. After college, I would like to be an elementary school teacher for fourth or fifth grade, then transfer over to more of an administrative position. I’ve always loved working with kids and helping others reach their potential. I’ve always had such amazing teachers over the years that made who I am today. I’d love to be part of someone else’s journey and help them through their early years.