Helping preserve history

Linda Murphy realizes her life will be forever intertwined with volleyball.

Along with being a standout player for the United States national team in the 1960s, Murphy ? a Burroughs High graduate ? was also an Olympian and has spent decades coaching and holding clinics for young players.

In recent years, she has also taken up another volleyball-relayed cause. Murphy is passionate about preserving and chronicling the history of the U.S. national women's teams from throughout the years.

That cause has motivated the former Burroughs coach and she has become the driving force behind a reunion of former female athletes from the 1960s and '70 that will take place today at the Burbank Holiday Inn.

Murphy, who played for the U.S. in the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games ? the first year the sport was held for women ? said she got the idea to hold a reunion while attending USA Volleyball's 2003 Dorothy C. Boyce Annual Awards and Recognitions Banquet in Minneapolis. At the banquet, which celebrated USA Volleyball's 75th anniversary, USAV named two women's All-Era teams ? 1949-1977 and 1978-2003. Murphy was honored on the first team.

One of Murphy's teammates in 1964 was Patti Lucas-Bright, a two-time Olympian and a member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. She wasn't able to attend the award ceremony. Lucas-Bright died of heart disease on Sept. 8, 2005.

It was her friend and teammate's mortality that prompted Murphy's quest to unite players for an event.

"Many of the players are coaches from the early years are getting older and we want to preserve as much information and history about the sport as we can," Murphy said.

"I also thought a reunion would be a nice way to get people together, people who have contributed to the sport."

Murphy set out to contact as many members from the national teams of her era as possible. Nine of the 10 living members of the 1964 Olympic team and 11 out of 12 players from the '68 team are planning to attend.

Murphy also attracted members of the 1967 and 1971 world championship and Pan American Games teams. Also attending will be members of various top Southern California club teams. More than 60 players are expected.

"We have four people coming from Hawaii, along with people from Alabama, Kentucky, Texas Arizona and Oregon," said Murphy, a teacher at Burroughs who has was also inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. "We have players from the [Santa Monica] Mariners, who were my heroes when I played."

An accomplished athlete, Murphy became a nationally renowned player in 1960 when she was still a student at Burroughs.

She accumulated eight U.S. Open National Championships during her career. She was also a five-time first-team All American and played in the Pan Am Games in 1963 and on the gold-medal winning Pan Am team of 1967, in addition to playing for two other U.S. Women's National teams. The USVBA named Murphy an All-Time Great Female Player in 1971.

She also was a successful girls' coach at Burroughs, building a respectable program. During her 18 seasons, the Indians had a 177-152 record and an 85-93 mark in the Foothill League. Along with capturing league titles in 1986 and 1994, the Indians reached the CIF Southern Section playoff quarterfinals in 1986 and 1987, posting a combined 32-8 record during the two seasons.

In addition, Murphy's players earned five All-CIF Southern Section awards through the years. Athletes like Debbie Penney, Mary Ann Wagner, Jennifer Wagner, Tracy McCauley and Christy Russell made Burroughs a successful program and a league front-runner in the 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s.

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World