A Winner Moves On: With Basketball Over, Murphy Embraces New Challenge
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
Samantha Murphy is still putting up big numbers and making it look easy, although she insists the newest phase of her life is anything but that.
A 97 score on a recent exam in her postgraduate studies to become a physician assistant compares favorably with the high marks she posted in the classroom and on the basketball court at GCU.
But Murphy says beating a Dixie State double team was never this challenging.
“This is the hardest schooling I’ve ever had,” says Murphy, 23, who began at Midwestern University in June. “It’s like medical school condensed into two years.”
GCU’s career leading scorer for women’s basketball (2,147 points in four years) played professionally in Iceland in 2011-12 before returning home to begin at Midwestern. She’s living on the Glendale campus and finding most of her waking hours consumed by books, taking difficult classes in anatomy and biochemistry.
If all goes according to plan, she will graduate in 2014 with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies and take her boards shortly thereafter.
“I feel more and more confident I made the right choice (for a career),” says Murphy, who was an Academic All-American at GCU. “The work is hard and daunting, but it’s a part of the process. I’m pretty confident I’ll enjoy this as a career.”
Her break with basketball may have been made easier by playing for a losing team in Iceland. Although she was the team’s leading scorer and enjoyed the experience of living overseas for six months, she felt it was time to be done.
“It wasn’t that we lost,” she says, “it was that people were OK with it. The culture is so different. Americans are where we are in basketball because we’re so competitive. You lose your passion for the game playing with people who aren’t (that way).
“I wish I could play basketball forever the way it was in college.”
The Antelopes went 29-3 in 2010-11, advancing to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 before losing to Cal Poly Pomona. Murphy, a 5-foot-8 guard, averaged 24.6 points and was named Division II Player of the Year, leaving an indelible mark as a student-athlete. In her four years, the GCU women went 83-33.
She says the lessons she learned from the University weren’t all in the classroom.
“Because I played a sport, I’ve become an expert on time management,” she says, “and I can easily focus. That’s just as valuable as the education itself, and it’s probably the most important takeaway for me from GCU.
“Athletes know how to commit to something, and I think that’s why they do well (at other things).”
It’s possible that the Antelope women’s basketball program will see another Murphy soon. Samantha’s younger sister, Vanessa, is a freshman this fall at St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix — and she’s already 5-foot-11.
“She’s got work ethic in her genes,” Samantha says. “She’ll be a different player than I was.
“I love coaching her and helping her. I had my time and enjoyed it and made the most of it.”