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By GUS OSTRUM
GCHS Director of Advancement
Ramblings Spring 2012 edition
Joe Murphy has served on both sides of the fence at Gloucester Catholic, and has
earned a reputation as a beloved figure within the community as a former alumnus and athlete, coach, teacher, and friend.
“Coach Murphy,” a 1954 graduate, began his long affiliation with GCHS as freshman student entering classes in the Fall of 1951. The love affair with the school has never stopped, even some 62 years later.
One key life lesson that Joe has never forgotten is the strong relationship between a teacher (coach) and a student, and the influence that relationship has on a young person’s life.
“A teacher and a mentor is so important in the development of a young person’s life,” Joe said. “The decisions a young person makes are heavily influenced by what a coach or a teacher might suggest. That young person is on a life path when he or she is 17 years of age, and you can’t underestimate the importance of a teacher’s influence.”
Joe has experienced this influence at Gloucester Catholic both as a student athlete and later as a teacher and coach. In the early 1950s, young Joe Murphy proved to be one of South Jersey top athletes, starring in football, basketball, and baseball for the Rams.
Perhaps his biggest influences while a student at Gloucester Catholic was Msgr. Edward Lucitt, who coached football in the early 1950s, and coach Bill Flynn, a baseball mentor.
“These men were very important figures in the field of athletics in South Jersey, and they not only coached me at Gloucester Catholic but in the midget programs too,” Joe said. “They really made a difference in my life in athletics and with getting into college.”
Following a successful collegiate career at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, Joe married his high school sweetheart, Gerry Hagan, and the two settled down in South Jersey to raise their family.
Joe endured a successful teaching and coaching career (football and baseball) at
Gloucester Catholic in the early 1960s and later coached at Washington Township High School and Oakcrest High, where he earned South Jersey Coach of the Year honors in 1968. He also spent 10 years as an assistant football coach at the University of Pennsylvania under former coach Harry Gamble.
At Gloucester Catholic, Joe coached many star athletes and championship teams, but he especially remembers the individuals he helped to make college decisions.
“I had some athletes that certainly were talented enough to play major college ball, but I also remember helping some football players into Division III schools,” Joe said. “I always thought it was important to be honest with young athletes about their talent levels and to help match them with a school that was the right fit for them academically and athletically.”
Coach Murphy was especially pleased to see one of his star athletes, George Anastasia, ’65, go on to play collegiate ball at Dartmouth University.
“Dartmouth was such a great academic fit for George, and you can’t believe how proud we were that he was admitted to an Ivy League school,” Joe said. “That type of a college really gave George a great foundation and set the tone for the rest of his career.”
Following graduation, Anastasia has become of the country’s top investigative reporters with the Philadelphia Inquirer and has authored several publications on organized crime in the region.
Today, coach Murphy, now retired and living with Gerry in Glendora, still helps out his alma mater any way he can. He serves on the school’s Alumni Association Board of Trustees, the Steering Committee for the school’s Athletic Fields Capital Campaign, and as a member of the Camden County Sports Hall of Fame Executive Committee.
“I love giving back to the school,” Joe said. “Gloucester Catholic has meant so much to both me and Gerry, and I never mind helping out any way I can.”
1963 GLOUCESTER CATHOLIC FOOTBALL TEAM, Coach Joe Murphy