Around 1996, Geneva College built a new, revamped soccer field on its campus in Beaver Falls.
At the same time, I became the head coach of the Point Park University men’s soccer program.
Despite being competitors in the same Conference as NAIA (National Athletic Intercollegiate Association) schools, Murray always made time to support me as I navigated the perils and challenges that came with trying to manage a college soccer program with a very tight budget, without a facilities to call our own, recruiting obstacles and without a winning season or playoff berth in our program’s short history.
Knowing our difficult situation with trying to secure quality, soccer-specific home fields (which practically didn’t exist in Western PA in the mid-late 1990s), Murray offered for Point Park to play a few home games at Geneva’s field at no cost, helping arrange for us to play some nationally prominent opponents. This proved to be very helpful on our budget and provided great opportunities for our program to play some high-level competition prior to our conference schedule (we would beat nationally-ranked Auburn-Montgomery University on Geneva’s pitch in September 1998).
Of all the coaches in our conference, he was the one constant, always there if I needed anything and he kept offering encouragement.
That was something that always stuck with me.
If anyone knew what it was like to build a soccer program that had been down and out, it was David Murray.
If anyone wanted desparately to see his alma mater’s soccer program succeed, it was David Murray.
Murray was a standout soccer player during his days as a student at Geneva, graduating in 1987. He immediately secured the men’s soccer head coaching position at Westminster where he served for three years before being hired to take over the Geneva men’s soccer program in 1990 after a 2-15 season in 1989. He immediately turned the program around with a 12-8 record in his first season.
I was saddened to learn the devastating news that Murray had suddenly passed away on Tuesday after suffering significant injuries on Sunday caused by a tragic accident at his home. While our paths hadn’t crossed much in recent years, I was always an admirer of him not just as an outstanding coach, but for being a caring person and a mentor to many young players and coaches.
Murray devoted much of his life to the game of soccer, as earned and held a USSF “A” License; NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.
He spent nearly two decades coaching Geneva College men’s program and the Pittsburgh Strikers’ soccer club, and had remained active with the World Cup Soccer Camp program, a resident summer soccer camp founded 1988, and through the years hosted more than 25,000 soccer players at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe and also at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.
Murray also served as the Athletic Director at Penn State New Kensington from 2009-2017, but his legacy and accomplishments in the soccer ranks came at Geneva, where his 1994 team won the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association (NSCAA) championship, as that team finished the season with an 18-6-3 record, the most wins in a single season in school history.
Murray’s program excelled over his 16 seasons as head coach, with a winning record in each of his first nine seasons, including regular playoff appearances. In addition, his 1997 team opened the year with 12 straight victories, the best start to a season in program history, on its way to a 17-3-1 season.
Even as his alma mater’s all-time wins leader within the men’s soccer program (posting an 188-121-18 overall record), his impact on his student-athletes and the Geneva community extended far beyond wins and losses.
“Our prayers are with Coach Murray’s family during this unthinkable tragedy,” Geneva’s Director of Athletics Van Zanic said through a school release
“Coach Murray exemplified the true definition of excellence during his time at Geneva College. While his all-time numbers are clearly impressive and his teams were always striving for success, it is the mark he left on those student-athletes personally that will be his legacy. The love and caring he showed his players is hard to put into words. They loved each other, they loved Geneva and they loved their coach.
“Coach Murray built the Geneva soccer program to a standard that is being felt today, and those players that were on that journey with him each know how much they meant to him. Today we are feeling heavy hearts with the loss of not only a coach, but a lifelong friend.”
Among Murray’s Soccer Coaching Credentials:
- USSF “A” License; NSCAA Advanced National Diploma,
- Over 20 years of College Level Coaching Experience,
- Led Geneva to 13 playoff appearances, 5 National Tournament appearances and 1 NCCAA National Championship,
- Achieved over 200 Intercollegiate Victories, 4 Time NCCAA Conference Coach of the Year, 2 Time NAIA Conference Coach of the Year
My boss, friend, coach & mentor – David Murray passed away today. He believed in me. He showed me the way. He’s the reason I’m a coach today. I promise to pass on everything you taught me. Heaven is getting a HELL of a soccer coach. 💔 ⚽️ Goodbye for now Coach Murray… pic.twitter.com/fsXHgB3Snv
— Coach Conner (@CoachCH14) July 7, 2021
Click here for more information about David’s memorial and funeral arrangements.
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