Annual golf tournament fundraiser in memory of beloved coach
By Mary Pritchard, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – During his 14 years coaching the Shrewsbury High School (SHS) Golf Team, Leo Murray was credited for helping lead the SHS Colonials golf team to numerous league and district championships, and the Division 1 State Championship in 2009. He was also described as an outstanding role model and mentor in the SHS community as well as an active member of the Shrewsbury Athletic Boosters Committee, serving as chair of the annual golf tournament.
After he passed away in April 2012, that tournament was renamed the “Annual Leo M. Murray Jr. Golf Classic” to honor the contributions he made to the SHS community.
Alan Simonian, one of the tournament organizers and the head coach of the SHS Golf Team since Murray’s death, reflected on how the bond that the late coach had fostered with members of the team helped them cope with two profound losses in just 16 months; the deaths of teammate Andy Reese and of Murray himself.
“Over the years, Leo worked on transforming the golf team into a family,” Simonian said. “Since the team is comprised of only ten golfers, the relationships and bonds that are formed from alumni to seniors to freshman are stronger than almost any other sport or team I’ve seen before. Any team would surely be tested with losing a member of their ‘family,’ especially such a dynamic leader as Andy Reese, but the resilience, determination and dedication of this family is what held everyone together when we lost Leo a year later.”
During Murray’s first year of coaching the team, Simonian was a freshman playing his first of four years. He returned at the end of the 2009 season to coach with Murray and became the head coach of the team after Murray’s death.
“Having been close to Leo for 14 years, coaching beside him for the last three years, and looking up to him like a second father, the loss hit home especially hard,” Simonian said. “While most teams would look to their coach for support, I found myself looking to the team for support, and they delivered. Having my father and uncle serve as assistant coaches this year helped stabilize the team during these rough times. This past year was magical with the team finishing 10-0 in a very competitive Mid-Wach A league, a central MA D1 district championship and dedicating the season in Leo’s name. Everyone on our team knew Leo was with us the entire season.”
Simonian said the golf tournament is a great way to remember Leo and give back to the community in his honor.
“Leo was a role model and mentor to hundreds of Shrewsbury High Students; those that played on the golf team, but also many others who he got to know within the school,” he said. “When Leo started the JV golf program in 1999 and was an assistant varsity coach, he drove home two values: first you were a student-athlete; grades and school work always came first. Second was sportsmanship. Beginning in 1999, the SHS golf team won the annual Mid-Wach A league sportsmanship award every year through last year – 2012/2013. While Leo was a coach, he was also like a second father to so many members of the community. He was always available for support.”
While Simonian is no longer the coach of the team, he plans to remain actively involved in the tournament.
“In stepping down from the head coach position after this past year, I’ll be able to focus more of my efforts on the Annual Leo M. Murray Golf Classic.” he said. “Leo took over running this tournament a few years back and raised the standard for how the tournament was run. Additionally, SHS renamed the annual sportsmanship award, which is awarded to one male and one female student, in Leo’s honor. Having the sportsmanship award renamed after Leo is a great testament to his legacy.”
The tournament, sponsored by the SHS Athletic Boosters, will be held on Friday, June 21 at Juniper Hill Golf Course in Northborough with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The entry fee is $135.00 and includes greens fees, golf cart, BBQ dinner, contests, prizes, raffles and more. Funds raised from this event will be used to help support the athletic teams at SHS.
For tournament information related to golfing, email SHSBoostersGolf@gmail.com, for sponsorships/donations ptoti@shrewsbury.K12.ma.us, and for sign-up forms go to http://goo.gl/YdarI and click on the links on the bottom of the page.
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