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George Ferguson Column: Thank you, Murph, thanks for everything you did for all Blue Ponies

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When Dennis Murphy called me last month and told me he was retiring as Havre High’s longtime Activities Director, my first reaction was one of selfishness. I didn’t want him to go because he’s first, and foremost, a really, really good AD and, as a coach, that’s actually what you always hope for.

But there’s another side to my relationship with Dennis, and that’s one in which I didn’t have the right to be selfish. He’s my good friend and he’s retiring, so I have to be happy for my friend because he’s earned it. And now that he’s reached that point that he’s solid in his decision to move on, as much as I didn’t want him to go, I’m happy for him.

Make no mistake, though, I and we are going to miss Murphy very much when school resumes this fall. He’s done so much for activities at Havre High. Let me reiterate that — I said activities, not just sports. That’s right, Murph, as I have always called him, supported everything under the activities umbrella, and that’s one of the many things that made him one of the best to ever serve as an AD.

Of course, as someone who worked with Murph for 18-plus years, I could write four or five columns on all of the things he did for us as an AD. But that would take me forever, so instead, I’ll just keep it a little more simple.

In my time coaching at Havre High, I never experienced anything but support and dedication from Dennis. If I as a coach, my program or, especially, our student-athletes needed something, he would do his very best to make that happen. He had our back as a program and, above all, he always had the best interests of the coaches and student-athletes at heart. He always tried to do what’s right for all of us and for Havre High.

And I’m not just talking about my experiences coaching tennis and golf at HHS. I know he had the best interests of all activities at HHS in his heart because I have also spent the last 15 years as the sports editor at the Havre Daily News, and I’ve had to interact with Murph that way all those years, too. And I’m here to tell all of you now, I can’t even count the hours spent with him, talking about Havre High sports, talking about Havre High coaches and talking about all of the amazing kids who have come though there.

In other words, I know for a fact — because I’ve listened to him talk about it for the last almost 20 years — that Murph loved Havre High activities very much, and I know he wanted nothing more than to do the very best job he could for all of us who have been under his umbrella.

To put it another way, Murph gave all of us, coaches, students, athletes, I mean all of us who call ourselves Blue Ponies, everything he had to give, and for that, I’ll forever be grateful.

But it didn’t just stop with Havre High. During Murph’s tenure, he also spent a ton of time devoted to the Montana High School Association, and again, I’ve now had enough experience to have seen not only the tremendous work that Murph did with the MHSA and for the MHSA and Montana Coaches Association, but also just how respected by those institutions that he is. I’ve been all over the state, and believe me, not only does everyone know Murph, everybody respects what he’s done as an AD.

So, Havre High isn’t just losing a great one, Montana high school athletics is losing a great one.

And yet, I am still happy for Dennis. He’s done his time, he’s devoted 35 years to education, he’s devoted nearly 20 alone to the coaches and student-athletes at Havre High. He has given of himself. And his contributions to Havre High will be ever-lasting, and that’s why, those of us who will go on and continue to coach at HHS, we will continue the mission, a mission that Dennis carried for many years, and one that will keep on going.

And, because of what Murph has done for me, for Havre and for Blue Ponies everywhere, the last thing I need to do is say thank you. Thank you, Dennis, and Ginger Chagnon, while I’m at it. Thank you for your dedication, your hard work, and your uncompromising loyalty to Blue Pony Nation.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

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