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The Daily Tar Heel

Former UNC men's lacrosse player helps athletes prepare for post-college careers

UNC men's lacrosse Director of Operations and former player Peter Murphy during a game versus Ohio State at Finley Fields on Sunday, Oct.15, 2023. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications/Anthony Sorbellini.

Whether it’s on LinkedIn, the field or the sidelines, Peter Murphy has done a little bit of everything for the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team.

The former star defenseman was named as the team's new director of operations on Sept. 25. A 1997 graduate of UNC, Murphy was a captain and three-year starter for the Tar Heels, where he also earned All-America honors. During his tenure as a player, Murphy helped his team claim two ACC titles and currently ranks third all-time in defensive takeaways in the North Carolina record books.

“We're thrilled to see Murph move into the role of director of operations for our Tar Heel lacrosse program,” head coach Joe Breschi said in the hiring announcement. “His passion for the game and this program is unmeasurable, and I'm excited to see the positive impact he continues to have on our young men, on and off the field.”

Murphy’s general roles include supervising fundraising initiatives, organizing events, and preparing on-field strategies and scouting reports. His major responsibility, however, is facilitating the Heels Helping Heels program, which helps players transition to the professional sphere.

‘I don’t think there’s any way that I would go back’

Murphy, a native of Long Island, New York, pursued a career in equity trading in Manhattan and Chicago following his graduation. But, after 20 years in the industry and coaching his kids in their respective sports, he realized he missed being immersed in athletics.

“I had a great career in equities, but my passion is being on the field, working with the kids, and coaching,” Murphy said. “I don’t think there’s any way that I would go back.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy moved to Chapel Hill with his family and returned to the program as a volunteer assistant coach in the fall of 2022. On top of his general responsibilities, the role he said he's most excited to assume is being the main liaison in the Heels Helping Heels organization.

Founded during the pandemic, Heels Helping Heels aims to connect lacrosse alumni with current athletes. Matching is based on similarities in geographical location, industries of interest and positions played on the field, among other criteria.

“For the first year in [Heels Helping Heels'] existence, we had a hundred mentors that raised their hand to individually be assigned to a new player on the team,” Murphy said. “So every player on the team — as a first-year program — with 65 guys on the roster, everyone had a mentor.”

Murphy explained that once the alumni are paired with players, the athletes are introduced to the professional sphere to ensure that they have career plans upon graduation.

As a member of the Heels Helping Heels board of directors, Murphy is responsible for creating networking opportunities for the athletes, which consists of inviting alumni to on-campus events and hosting Zoom meetings for career prep workshops.

Murphy also requires that the athletes create resumes and develop LinkedIn profiles as early as possible.

“I think that’s been really effective just in terms of framing things for [the players] and having an understanding of how big the network is and how easily things can be connected softly and passively, and let the network start working for them,” he said.

‘It’s a 40-year relationship’

Murphy serves as the mentor to junior defenseman Grant Pierce. The two instantly clicked last year over shared experiences as defensive players — now, their relationship extends beyond the sport.

“[Murphy’s] really taken me under his wing,” Pierce said. “It’s really awesome to have a coach like that who is able to have you over for dinner and just kind of treat you like a bit of a father figure.”

As a media and journalism major, Pierce hopes to pursue a career in sports public relations, so Murphy has been pairing Pierce with experts in the field — including women’s head coach Jenny Levy’s husband, Dan Levy, who is a senior vice president of Olympic and women's sports at Wasserman, a sports marketing agency.

“This is one of the greatest opportunities young athletes have in getting into the business world and getting into all these internships,” Pierce said.

As Heels Helping Heels continues to grow, Murphy is looking forward to forging relationships that last long after his campaign at North Carolina.

“The saying that we keep talking about in the office is that this is not a four-year relationship,” Murphy said. “It’s a 40-year relationship.”

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