About Digit

Monday, December 22, 2014


This is a letter I recently sent to the AD at UMD--Shannon has been a long time friend and respected colleague and I firmly believe that she is onto greener pastures.  However, I want to be clear she should be given the choice to move on.  The ridiculousness of this decision will hopefully inspire many of us who have done nothing about other female coaches being mistreated and fired to become active in our collective opinions to value women leaders and role models! 

Dear AD Berlo,

Not sure what the circumstances are around Coach Miller's firing, but as a long time leader in women's sports and as someone who has supported your staff over the years, I could not be more disappointed in your decision.  I will not go on a long-winded diatribe about this as I am sure you have already heard countless times--on the can of worms that you opened--about valuing women in our community, respecting women's leadership, respecting half of the population on the planet and what your decision implies.  I am sure you've heard it all. All true and their versions probably much more articulate than mine!

The silver lining in all of this much like the Brown Court case in the 90's, is that your decision has activated a group of people, both men and women, who are dumbfounded, outraged, and quite frankly pissed off that this behavior can continue to exist in the male dominated paradigm at UMD.  The shift to the female model of leadership is occurring and is going to happen.  I would like to thank you for help in furthering the cause.  And in my humble opinion, Shannon Miller is way too talented to be in limited, insensitive, and dead end environment that seems to exist at UMD for women.  She doesn't know it now but you did a coach and leader like Shannon Miller a huge favor and also re-ignited a fire that all women coaches should have had for a long time!

Digit Murphy

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hockey and Poetry--Knowing My Players???

A Shift in Sports Culture?

Headed back to Boston after a fabulous weekend in Toronto at the CWHL All Star game.  Top Ten reasons it was fabulous?
1.     There were 7,000 fans in the Air Canada Center cheering for our game and our fantastic athletes who fervently play the game that they love, the greatest game on earth for no formal compensation.
2.     The game was televised  by Sportsnet in Canada and the NHL network in the US in front of millions of viewers.
3.     The Toronto Maple Leafs one of the oldest NHL franchises in history believes in our Commissioner Brenda Andress's and the CWHL Executive Board's vision to put women's hockey on the map.
4.     That  (insert number) US and Canadian National and Olympic players played in the CWHL   All Star game and that there were more who could not participate due to employment commitments-so the game could have had even MORE talent!
5.     That we haven't even scratched the surface on what women can do in the sport of ice hockey to make a difference by being role models in our culture.
6.     That people are just beginning to find out about the amazing academic and athletic backgrounds of these future leaders in sport and society.
7.     That the new female model in sport is emerging as a "wholesome" alternative to the sports market and that corporate executives are getting on board!
8.     That when the lights go up and the cameras are on us the women shine and light up the room....
9.     And everyone smiles with them (not at them)! THE FANS are part of the experience because our female athletes are approachable and accessible.
10.   Finally that our players write poetry...and can even sing the national anthem when called upon.  Examples of blending personal talents and sport that connect with people watching symbolize the new paradigm shift in sport to include a female model that potentially all can enjoy! Even little boys and men.  We are people first and bring our own  biases and individual outlooks and opinions to yes even sport!  Women's sports create a new, diverse, and exciting environment that is not necessarily  better than the present model...just a little different!

And lastly the inspiration to write this post is from the All Star weekend program book...while perusing it I stumbled upon an answer to a survey style question in the program for one of my own players--one of our captains Kacey Bellamy.  One of the things that she enjoys doing is writing poetry!  It reminded me that I have to pay better attention as a coach to know more about my players...a good coach in the new model knows their players, treats them as individuals, the figures out how to connect the group to optimize the performance of the team.  The "yell and tell" model is becoming obsolete and I am happy to be championing the new model of sports management as we continue to blend sport and society within our modern culture!
Kacey Bellemy (right) with Red Team Captain Charline LaBonte

Here is a sample of Kacey's poetry! 

Interaction By Kacey Bellemy--2 Time US Olympian Silver Medalist-- 4 year member and Captain Boston Blades

Fighting the morning wake up not wanting to step into the day ahead
Robotically moving through routined actions

Happy one day miserable the next, surrounded in a body of armor that we use to shield our emotions 

Smiles used to conceal tears, laughter to hide pain, paper and pen to diminish speech

Time controlling us, never stopping always moving forward, stuck in the hourglass of thoughts running backwards

Bed sheets warming by the minute thoughts swirling by the second adapting to the sounds of nature on the outside but captured by the vibrations within 

Mind fighting the heart for air but even the breathing can't be controlled

Darkness giving our eyes the brightest part of our day

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Food for thought--Giving Thanks and the Church of the Hockey Gods

So one of my friends who is new to the hockey world asked me what I was doing at Thanksgiving...his daughter was playing in a local tournament and one of the teams in our program will be at that tourney as well.  And I was trying to figure out when the last time that I had a Thanksgiving with no hockey?  I mean at Brown we always played the Mayor's Cup the day after.  But I actually had practice at 7PM the night of Thanksgiving---so my players wouldn't overindulge!  I laugh a little about it now.  And the 53 year old in me that now has a little more perspective (I did say a little) wondered--WHERE ARE WE ALL GOING WITH  SPORTS AND HOLIDAYS???

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust


Just informed that one of my friends who coaches a male sport was "let go" because the parents didn't want a female to coach their boys--will it ever end??

Thought I'd post this again:
Number of Women Coaches In College Hockey Dwindling
Let's keep reminding ourselves keep moving the needle forward in all professions it is just not in hockey!!  It is in business, politics, and life in general.  Sexism is rampant and all we can do about it is keep the dialogue open, honest, and educated!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Move Over DNA Hello Coach!

Since I am a crazy "grow the game" traveller and can't sit still long enough for a long commentary... I have decided to post articles and quickly comment on them--I love the writing but my band with for writing is short-- 6-7am. During this time I must check emails,  get my mind and day going and now write!  I wish that I could write all day about the ideas whirling around in my head about how females come to tasks, think, feel about themselves, and of course coaching but alas I have only an hour--so I will try to hyper focus and comment  on what I believe some of the many challenges that our female gender inherently has. Now in my 50's although not a scientist or do I have any basis for my theories besides my own experiences, I firmly believe our biggest challenge challenge is to overcome the way we are wired as females...not the people around us limiting us, not the environment just our HARD WIRING DNA--DAMN so hard to overcome!

Here's a good article:

Will Women Ever Get into the Coaching Ranks in the NHL??

You might say "Didge are you crazy??  They might be insinuating that women will never coach in the NHL--I thought you were an advocate...why would you post this??"--well two things...

1. I love the advocacy in the replies and comments in the end of the article from both MEN and women--there are lots of men out there that thing that women can and should coach.

2. With harsh challenges ahead of our gender in coaching...as indicated by the banter in the replies section between a woman who thinks women can coach men and a man who thinks that there is absolutely NO room for females in coaching.

Read the article and replies you will see why I like the article!

We females should start to examine our behavior.  After all it is about us.  It is about respect for ourselves.  It is about fearlessness and passion when want something.  It is quite simply about motivation.  Coaching is a hard profession, it is brutal.  If we coach men we will be called names, we will be bullied, we will be laughed at--not always in our face but behind our backs, by our own gender, by our children (they don't get it yet ;) Ladies let's keep telling ourselves that we ARE qualified!  As soon as we see ourselves as capable and worthy and we are willing to sacrifice, we will coach.  But not a second before--we might coach but we won't be successful until we can see ourselves as capable in that role. We even struggle to find our niche in our own sports where society really thinks that men should be the keepers of the coaching kingdom!

Coaching in the male sports realm is like going into the lion's den or the shark tank...it is not for the faint of heart.  We cannot continue to demand our status we must earn it through hard work perseverance, and sacrifice.  There are so many women out there who have all of these traits--they did it as college athletes and they are now doing it as mom's, daughters of aging parents, and spouses-we can do it!  We just need to WANT to!

So let's get out there ladies and quit yappin' we are very capable--look at our lives and what we do everyday--we do exactly what coaches do--we motivate, we teach, we drive, we nurture, we cajole, we schedule, we organize, I could go on and on--what holds us back is the fear of the actual sports world--going into the lions den and actually knowing what we know and believing on ourselves and what we know.  We have been told for years that we don't know sports or that we don't know enough about sports to coach, or that we are not TOUGH enough--seriously who is really tough these days it ain't anyone in this generation!  We believe the others and not ourselves--one of the biggest things to get past is our own female hard wiring.  This is what gets in our way! Move over DNA--hello coach!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Digit Murphy and Long Time PC  Asst Bob Bellmore
It's been a long time coming....When I first spoke these words at Brown University as the Head Women's Hockey Coach  after our victory in the first ever Mayor's Cup in 1995 or was it 1996? whenever...it was a long time ago... and it HAD BEEN a "long time coming"! The first ever Mayor's Cup in Women's Hockey when yes that's right it had been a tradition in men's hockey forever--or so it seemed to a young trailblazer...But that didn't stop our administration at Brown at the time to blast me for providing a negative comment in the then only form of printed media in Providence---THE PROJO (our affectionate name for the Providence Journal).  At the time I was in my early years at Brown and most people would tell you that those were the years of my "political incorrectness" but whatever...in my mind I was simply telling the truth!

Now in my tenure as head coach of the Boston Blades the only US women's Professional Hockey Team, I had the opportunity of playing in a first rate venue for women's hockey!  I have seen other venues on college campuses, so WHAT separated this venue...WHAT was the thing that impressed me the most about this amazing facility?  Was it the grandiose lobby, the have everything at your fingertips coaches offices,  the professional team (better than the Boston Bruins) locker room, the complete with leather seats classroom for the athletes, the shooting facility, the weight room (complete with astroturf for warm ups), the training room with dualing hot tubs, the doctors offices to privately work on athletes, the impeccable visitors locker rooms, the high tech sound system, the jumbo-tron, the luxury boxes...NO what impressed me the most was the TREATMENT of the Women and its supporters...the administration and staff in their actions said that the women TRULY mattered. The facilities people and athletic administrators were polite, attentive, positive, helpful and this is a testament to the administration at Providence.  The Athletic Director, Bob Driscoll and his staff have really made an effort to make women's hockey a showcase sport at PC.  My hats off to them.  I will give credit as well to Nate Lehman and his staff for welcoming the women's game and having a cooperative hockey spirit! It takes everyone in hockey to be supportive of each other if we are all to move forward with our sport and succeed in the future! I am incredibly grateful for that--so as I finished in my email to Coach Bobby D--I never thought I'd say this as the long time Brown coach and Cornell alum....but as a true women's advocate I say give credit where credit id due--GO FRIARS!!

Here is an email that I'd like to share to Bob Deraney--I thank him for believing in our sport and being a true advocate--thanks again!

Hey Bobby,

We had a great time playing our game in your rink yesterday. We are so grateful to you and your staff for letting us be a part of your tremendous celebration.  Your staff, your administration, your team, and your alums, were fabulous ambassadors for the game. Providence College is truly committed to providing a "Cadillac" experience for your athletes. You have no idea how this warms my heart as someone who has been in the game for so long and who has fought for equity in women's sports.  It really has been a long time coming and we have arrived at PC.  

Venues like Providence's and excellent  treatment of the women's hockey program and its guests by your professional staff are examples that women are important in our game.  I believe that this is the tip of the iceberg!  The Blades game was good hockey and you letting us showcase it in your arena says so much about you and your program's commitment to our sport.  Your alums were proud and beaming!  They are really lucky to have so much support from the Trustees on down to of course you, Meredith, Mel, and Brooksie! So thanks again and good luck in the rest of the season--I never thought I hear my self say this as the long time Brown coach...but GO FRIARS!

Take Care,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Practice or Meet and Greet with Olympic Leaders...yeah Practice


After the night with Meghan Duggan event I was inspired to write...it has been a while since I have had the time to write and it requires a ton of discipline to write continually--I have a lot of respect for people who consistently write!  So if anyone out there has any tricks to staying focused for an ADHD maniac...please feel free to comment on this blog...but alas I digress--

So Meghan Duggan event--I sat at the podium proud of the 140 folks in the crowd who fought traffic to come out to hear Meg speak--she is the captain of the Olympic Team and was being introduced by former Olympian and Sochi Olympic delegate Caitlin Cahow-- I would've thought there would be more of a demand...

First off--the speakers or topic "Women in Sports: A Night  with Olympian Meghan Duggan" for not having more folks out to the event.  It might have been the marketing of the event by yours truly (I am not the greatest at the FB, Twitter, Instagram, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Snap Chat...you get my drift too many things to update...however, of the people that did get my emails, calls and texts, I was pretty dumbfounded for the reasons that folks couldn't come out--and trust me I get it most parents have a ton to do on the weeknight! Most MOMS are out after work taking one of their two or three kids to practice or worrying about their kids homework or studying for a test or driving kids to SAT prep or washing their dog or cat or training for the marathon or baking the cookies for the bake sale or writing a brief for the project due on Friday....so yeah we are busy people.  Another reason for not coming was that the cost of the ticket (for a dinner/speech/and meet and greet sign autographs and take pics with one of the top players in the world in the sport they love) $40--was just a little too pricey! The one that really got me was this one--WE HAVE A HOCKEY PRACTICE!

This one had to kill me the most and is the reason for my post. The fact that we over schedule athletes for practices and workouts actually burns them out! I did it myself as a college coach--guilty a charged! This is a challenge at all levels of all sports...coaches and program administrators and/or parents depending on the level actually think that one practice or missing a practice makes a difference in the overall performance of their child or athlete.  In youth sports it is crazy I can almost justify it in college because of the resources thrown at the game--but I still don't condone it.  Honestly at the youth level...when you really think about it it's pretty funny!  How many times have parents had their kids go to practice or a game instead of doing homework or better yet skip school?  How many times have tournaments been scheduled during a school day?  Sports-and trust me I make my living on coaching-is vastly out of control! The business element has taken over sports and put the emphasis and priorities on the game and not the core values that traditionally have defined sports--leadership, sportsmanship, competition, teamwork...

Digression and rant once again...sorry back to the story...so I kid you not that more than one program told me that they could not come listen to the Captain of the Olympic Women's Hockey Team because they had practice. So herein lies the challenge...we have given the youth sport coaches this pedestal, this pulpit, this position of power where the sport is the vehicle to have their egos, competitive juices, and basically testosterone created rules become the priority. Where is the logic?  Where have we gone wrong ladies where we have allowed this to take place? We are the keepers of the kingdom--we have the thing inside us that protects the children, the good, the planet??? The proper thing to do for our daughters (and sons) is to be rational...to be logical..to be sane...and take back the field, the ice, the pool, to a place of sanity.  My passion lies in the fact that we are doing our kids a disservice by thinking that it is all about the game.  Please if you haven't seen it watch this clip the magic sports kits...

The Meghan Duggan night was a fabulous opportunity to see leadership, role modeling, and wholesomeness in sport up close and personal.  It would have been a great BREAK from the craziness of a practice--coaches should have the wherewithall to call it an off ice practice of leadership, education, sportsmanship, role modeling...what sports behaviors should emulate. The young girls at this event were treated to a great night that emulated these core values!  For those programs that had to have that practice I hope that you guys win this weekend...but the opportunity to reach out and shake the hand of the Olympic Team Captain who is off to Sochi might never come again.