Kathy Murray is attending her sixth Canada Games in basketball, either as player or coach
© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
"The best thing you can see is 12 players from P.E.I. go battle on a national stage with their heads up," says women¹s basketball coach Kathy Murray.
SHERBROOKE, QUE. — Prince Edward Island’s women’s basketball coach brings a wealth of experience to the sidelines.
This is the third Canada Games Kathy Murray has coached the team following three Games as a player.
“To my knowledge I am the only person in the history of Canada basketball to play in three,” Murray said.
The Charlottetown resident’s first Games was in 1985 as a 14-year-old on the under-21 team. Her junior high coach, Len Lang, suggested she try out to gain experience. When a couple of university students didn’t end up going, Murray made the squad.
“(Lang) said to me, ‘just go and learn and get better from the university kids.’ That’s what I did,” Murray explained.
“I was lucky I got to play about six minutes in that Canada Games. I scored a basket” on a layup.
Two years later, basketball ended up in the winter Games and some universities decided not to let their athletes go. Murray again had a chance to wear the provincial colours.
In 1989, basketball was moved back to the summer Games. Murray played for coach Cindy Doyle, who was the point guard on the 1985 squad.
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“By the time I got to the third one, I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed like a lot of kids are in their first Canada Games,” Murray said. “It’s a hard thing to explain what that experience is like.
“It was much different being a veteran than being a rookie at 14 years old.”
The 1989 Games came following Murray’s first season with the UPEI Panthers. The season saw the Panthers win the Atlantic conference and finish second to Calgary at nationals.
Murray got into coaching when one of her former bench bosses suggested she would enjoy it. Murray started with the mini program and worked her way up the ranks.
“Someone did it for me and gave a lot to me,” she said, so “I wanted to give back.”
Barry Strongman, an assistant on this year’s Canada Games team, said Murray teaches the girls about responsibility, teamwork, being on time and taking ownership for their actions.
“She’s a great Xs and Os coach, but she’s an even better life coach,” Strongman said. “That’s a great gift for the kids.”