by Scottie O'Bryan
Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s Varsity Girls Volleyball captain, senior Melissa Murphy, served up a remarkable season, her last season representing the Red Rams. Murphy’s athletic talent earned her as spot on the All CNY volleyball team, and was nominated by local coaches as OHSL Volleyball Player of the Year.
“Her intensity and dedication makes her such an outstanding player. She is constantly on the floor, digging the ball up or making the difficult play,” says Head Coach Patty Ferris. Murphy recorded 180 kills and 159 digs this season, one of the highest in the section.
Murphy was greatly admired by her teammates, not only for her amazing athleticism, but also for her role as a leader. “Melissa took everyone under her wing as a big sister, captain, and second coach,” says sophomore teammate Alex Payne “She was very helpful and encouraging to everyone. Anytime someone was struggling, she would work with them,” says junior teammate Eva Dougherty. “Being on a team with her, there was never a dull moment and she made it a very enjoyable season. Even when she wasn’t having the best game, she never let it affect her so her teammates could keep performing their best even when she wasn’t. She was able to create a special bond with everyone on the team, which made the team closer as a whole,” says sophomore teammate Kathryn Arendt.
Today Murphy plays volleyball at an elite level. However, her career didn’t begin with such success. Murphy first tried out for modified volleyball in seventh grade. After a week of tryouts, Murphy was cut. “I came back in eighth grade to prove a point,” says Murphy. This time, more determined than the year before, she played hard and by the end of the week she had made the team.
Although she initially began volleyball to be with her friends, Murphy quickly fell in love with the sport. “After I started playing modified I really loved it so I started playing year round and with other travel teams and I really loved it, so I just continued with it,” says Murphy.
So how has Murphy transformed from the girl who was cut to the talented varsity captain who’s one of the best in New York State? “It’s her determination,” says Coach Ferris. Murphy trains for volleyball every month out of the year. “She doesn’t have an off season,” says Arendt. “I try to work on specific things during the offseason to improve my game,” says Murphy. To prepare for this season, Murphy said that she mainly focused on her “vertical jump, strength, and accuracy.” Also a varsity lacrosse player and a former varsity basketball player, being a multi-sport athlete has also proved to be beneficial to Murphy. “Playing multiple sports has increased my court awareness and has also gotten me used to playing with other people to reach a common goal,” says Murphy.
Murphy also accredits much of her success to her mom. “My mom has encouraged me the most. She’s always really supportive, even though she doesn’t know a lot about the game. She has always been there for me,” says Murphy.
Off the court, Murphy’s life revolves around family and friends. “If I have a free moment I’m either hanging out with my family or hanging out with my friends,” says Murphy. ”Melissa is really funny and we always have a good time together,” says senior Sam Leavitt who has been friends with Murphy since middle school.
Though her time playing volleyball as a Red Ram is over, Murphy will continue to play for the Syracuse based travel team Club SyrV. Murphy hopes to lead Club SyrV to nationals in New Orleans this year, after losing in the regional finals last season. Murphy plans on continuing her career into college. However, she isn’t sure what level she will play at.
For Murphy, her education takes priority for her athletics. “That’s why I’m not sure whether I’ll play collegiately or for club. It will come down to which colleges I’m accepted into,” says Murphy. Murphy has applied to a mix of larger and smaller schools, such as the University of Georgia, Elon University, Syracuse University, NYU, and the University of Miami, among others.
Despite uncertainty in the future of Murphy’s volleyball career, the name Melissa Murphy will be remembered for a long time in J-DHS halls, not only as one of the best volleyball players in Red Rams history, but also a leader and a role model.