Senior Stories: Football's Conor Murphy
"Conor played in the shadow of some outstanding linebackers for much of his career, but his leadership and production as a senior has been exceptional," states Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football. "We're proud of Conor for many reasons, but his commitment to attend medical school is number one.
Q: What is your concentration?
A: Human Evolutionary Biology. It is the study of human origins and why humans are the way they are. I love it!
Q: How has Harvard football prepared you for life?
A: Every day, coach Murphy constantly stresses the ability to respond to adversity. The ability to respond to adversity translates to every aspect of life. It is in those times that people really show their true colors.
Q: What are the best parts of being a student-athlete here?
A: Harvard provides athletes with the unique opportunity to compete on the athletic field and in the classroom at the absolute highest level. I can pursue my academic interests to my heart's desire at one of the greatest universities in history. Then in the afternoons (and many early mornings) I get to go and compete against some of the greatest athletes in the United States in a game I love.
Q: What are the best parts of just being a student here?
A: Harvard offers a course in just about any subject you can think of. It is nice to wander off of the beaten path laid out by your concentration and take some other interesting courses in completely unrelated fields. I don't know anyone from back home at the University of Oklahoma that has taken a course in Japanese Anime, Early Celtic History, or The Nordic Hero Tradition in Scandinavia. And, these courses are taught by the top professors in their respective fields. You are learning straight from the mind that wrote the book and did most of the leading research in the field.
Q: Why did you choose Harvard?
A: I chose Harvard for three reasons. First, the guys on the team are some of the best people you can find in the entire world. I found that out quickly on my recruiting trip. Secondly, Harvard wins. And third, this place is definitely the best chance of fulfilling my dream of being a stay-a- home dad.
Q: If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and
A: I would love to be Spencer Larsen. He is a multi-purpose player for the Denver Broncos. Last season he became the first NFL player since 2003 (and only the fourth since 1990) to start an NFL game on offense, defense, and special teams. He is a machine on the field and easily the hardest worker off of it.
Q: What is your best moment on the football field?
A: I definitely have to say winning my second Ivy League championship last year. The Game was the coldest game I have ever been a part of. It was extremely rewarding to go out there and post a shutout against Yale. They were a great team and I was happy to come out of there with a team win and a championship trophy.
Q: What is the best dining in Harvard Square?
A: It depends on what you are looking for. Border Café is a great place to get some Tex-Mex. Lizzy's is my favorite ice cream joint. I always go there with my parents when they come in town for the games. I have to say that my favorite overall is Fire and Ice because you can make it what you want.
Q: Blackberry, Treo, Cell phone, or land-line?
A: I have to go with cell phone. I get overwhelmed with the Blackberry and the iPhone. Phones are for calling people (and texting too I guess...). We have computers to get on the internet, a GPS to find places, and phones to call people. I don't need an all-in-one package because I already have the other components covered.
Q: Its Two Hours Before Kickoff. What's on your iPod?
A: I don't listen to music before games. I like the motivation and "hype" to come internally. I just say a prayer for the safety of my teammates and visualize the game before I actually step out on the field. Music can be a distraction when I am trying to focus. And, you can't listen to music to get excited on the field.
Q; Which of your teammates is most likely to...
...play in the NFL?
A: I would have to say James Williams. He is definitely mean enough. That guy has more anger in him than anyone else on the team.
...Become a college football coach?
A: Probably Collier Winters. That kid loves studying the game. I bet Sean Hayes would make a killer high school coach though. He is always in it for the kids.
....be elected President?
A: John Mason or Buddy Bardenwerper. Everybody loves those guys. They have the best interests of the team at heart and I'm sure they would do the same for their country.
....join the circus?
A: Josue Ortiz would be a great strong man in the circus. He could put on one of those singlets and just do feats of strength for the crowds.
Q: Do you attend Harvard sporting events other than football
games? If so, which teams do you support the most?
A: I attend any and all wrestling matches I can make. My younger brother is a sophomore on the wrestling team at the 197 pound weight class. Those guys are the toughest kids on campus. They also happen to be the most fun to hang out with outside the football team.
Q: What are you most and least favorite road trips?
A: My favorite road trip has to be Penn. I like playing at Franklin Field. The Yale Bowl is nice too but I just like the crowds at Penn. Those kids get after it. My least favorite road trip is Lehigh. The eight hour drive is tiresome and I prefer not playing on grass fields.
Q: What has been your favorite class at Harvard?
A: I really enjoyed taking Organic Chemistry one summer while I was here. It was like working Sudoku puzzles and crosswords all day. Every question had a starting material and an end goal. I had to figure how they got there with the materials given. I took a course on Vikings and the heroic Nordic tradition that was amazing. It was like reading action packed bedtime stories with Nordic gods and mythic monsters.
Q: Favorite Professor?
A: My favorite professor has to be a guy named Paul Politte. I took Spanish with him for three semesters. He brought energy to the classroom every day. It was inspiring to see someone have a true love for what they do.
Q: What's the best part about a home football day?
A: Walking into that stadium just before kickoff and huddling up the team for our pre-game ritual is electrifying. There is no other stadium in the nation like Harvard Stadium. The crowds and the atmosphere are everything I could ever ask for.
Q: Give Us Your Top 5 Movies of all time.
A: The Fifth Element (greatest movie of all time!), Princess Mononoke, Sunshine, The Princess Bride, and True Romance. You can throw Leon The Professional and Forrest Gump in there as a substitute as well.
Q: What are the best and worst football movies ever made?
A: I haven't seen too many football films but with my limited exposure I have to say that the best is Rudy. The worst easily goes to the remake of The Longest Yard.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
A: I have some acrobatic skills that I developed in high school. My brother and I trained with our high school cheerleading team occasionally and I learned how to tumble and flip. We used to run around downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma doing some free-running.
Q: What's the best part about living in Cabot House?
A: We have had some of the best rooms on campus since our sophomore year. People always hate the Quad because it is away from the middle of campus. But you can't beat the isolation and comfort. Jay Harris, our house master, is a great guy as well. He helps make Cabot House what it is.
Q: Your father played football at Texas Tech. What would he say
about the passing game there now under coach Leach?
A: I don't think that he could care any less. The only football teams that my dad has ever followed have been the ones that my brother and I played on.
Q: You have taken mission trips to Mexico and Guatemala, and
have hunted in South Africa and Zimbabwe. What have been your
favorite memories while traveling?
A: Every trip was a tremendous opportunity to see the world at large. My favorite memories while traveling all have to do with living in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. I was 13 at the time. My whole family had moved over there with a job my dad was working at the time. I remember our frequent family trips to the local bazaar, jogging nearly every morning along the Ural River, and watching my brother repeatedly fall through his bed every night as the bedframe underneath the mattress gave out. It was a poorly constructed frame.
Q: Are you still planning a career as an orthopedic surgeon?
A: Yes I am. I am currently in the process of applying to medical school. Orthopedics and sports medicine allow me the unique opportunity to combine my love of athletics into a rewarding and exciting career. I look forward to the future advancements in the field so that athletes can get back to doing what they love faster than ever thought before.