Danbury cross country coach Rob Murray was named the 2021 National Boys’ Cross Country Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association on July 19th.
Murray had been nominated in 2008, and in his second nomination won the award that takes win/loss record, championship years and tenure as head coach.
“When I won it what went through my head was all the players I coached since 2000,” Murray said. “I thought about the coaches I worked with and all they physical labor the athletes put in every day. There has been a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication to our goals and expectations for the program.”
Murray is in his 21st year as the head coach, working as a volunteer coach at Danbury from 1993-99 before taking over as head coach in 2000.
“This award, even though it is called coach of the year is more of a reflection of the program and the athletes under a coach’s tenure.” Murray said. “Not just your wins and losses or championships, it’s reflective of what you have done in your entire career.”
The award is less focused on the success of an individual season, but more the longevity and impact a coach has had on their program.
“Rob’s leadership and coaching have been essential to our student-athletes, especially during a very tough year,” said Interim Superintendent Kevin Walston in a press release. “Rob’s positivity, enthusiasm, patience and focus have helped his students not just succeed in their sport but have provided them with the tools to move forward confidently in all endeavors.”
Murray was nominated following the 2019 cross country season, but he and other nominees weren’t recognized at the National Coaches Convention until now due to the pandemic.
“Everything was delayed with COVID so we had to wait a year to go to the convention and dinner,” Murray said. “It is great to meet all these other coaches from other states and to hear about the great things they have done. There are eight finalists that the organization selects, and everybody has strong resumes. It was an honor just to be recognized, yet alone to win the hold thing.”
Murray’s resume stood out however. In his career, he has a 95.93 winning percentage (236-10), has won four New England Championships, six state opens, six Class LL titles, and 14 FCIAC championships to go along with 10 undefeated regular seasons.
“I was kind of shocked that I won” Murray said. “I am not young, but I am not as old as some of the other (nominees). I thought maybe I was too young to get this but I was happily surprised.”
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