Christopher Murphy, John Scottus Class of 2000. Co-founder, Sports for Learning, California, USA.
Christopher studied Sports Science and Health Promotion in Dublin City University. He went on to do an MBA in Trinity College Dublin to build up his business acumen. He went on to co-found Sports for Learning in California, where he lives and works. Nowadays, he loves to salsa and speak in public.
What are you doing now?
I run a company called Sports for Learning in California and Texas with my friend Nicholas. It’s a sports programme with educational elements. It engages children in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths), and it increases positive behaviour. We are working in 300 schools and have 30 full time and 350 part-time coaches.
Was this always your most likely career?
Anything soccer-based was likely, but not general PE teaching. The idea of playing soccer non-stop was very attractive! I thought of being a professional soccer player when I was 16 years old, but then when I was around 18, being a soccer coach became attractive. I played for Broadford Rovers and later for Leicester-Celtic in the DDSL [The Dublin and District Schoolboys League]. I also liked long distance running, but the running trainer said you’d better make a decision between running and soccer and I chose soccer. After I finished school, I got a place in the University of Limerick for PE teaching, but decided not to accept it. Instead I went for Sports Science and Health Promotion in DCU. I am very happy with the choice. It was a great course.
I went on to do a Masters in Business in Trinity College Dublin. In the first few years of our time in California, we were not making much progress with our business, just enjoying the life California offered and we realised something else was needed. We watched Trump’s ‘The Apprentice’ (imagine!) and realised that all these competitors had an MBA. So, I did one. It helped a lot with operations, IT sales and marketing
How did you end up in California?
I did an internship from DCU for 6 months, and in our final year Nicholas and I both went out to California and coached soccer, and both liked California. It was excellent for everything, especially the outdoors. Gradually we took on more and more work, and it ramped up like that.
Were there any experiences in School that helped you make your career choice, or that put you onto that path?
My time in John Scottus taught me to follow my passion. My Dad never said always follow your passions, but school did say just that. Alumni of John Scottus appear to have been very diverse in their careers – it does seem to be a mark of the School.
What were your most successful subject areas in School?
I liked Economics and certainly Greek & Latin with Mr. O’Connor. Latin and Greek seemed to make sense. I really liked Sanskrit too and found it easy.
What are your main memories from school?
In my early years, my main memories are of the class holidays we went on, like camping in Donegal. I also remember being introduced to meditation.
Generally speaking, I was very happy. In secondary school, we had a break in the morning and another at lunchtime. I’d do a mighty quick change of footwear and run up to Herbert Park for a bit of soccer. I remember that so well.
Later on, it’s the trips that stick with me. We went to Berlin on a trip with Gerard Reid. I remember the Gaeltacht. Our trip to Ecuador was extremely memorable – especially climbing Cotopaxi!
What has stayed with you?
Firstly, it was being together with a small class of guys who got on very well together. I’ve had a remarkable lifelong friendship with Nicholas: this meant that I had an outlet all the time to talk about absolutely anything. For every one of the 38 years of my life, the two of us have gotten on very well, we very rarely have bad times. We are always talking.
There was good care by the teachers for our character and well-being and how that was going to progress over life. The headmaster was a very important person in my schooling. I also had a strong appreciation for Mr Kortenhorst who was our class teacher for much of our secondary schooling. He is a very sound guy with good intentions. Gerard Reid and Ross Maguire featured highly for me too.
From the ages of thirteen to sixteen, I remember embracing the spiritual aspect of the School and the philosophy brought to us from India, to help guide what we were doing on a daily basis. ‘Laetus impraesens’ has stuck with me. We practised meditation and pausing between activities. I liked meditation then and still like it. I remember meditating at home and in the school van when it was moving all over the place. Ross Maguire was my tutor of philosophy. I really liked those sessions. It’s a super important component of your life. I value it hugely.
What does Philosophy mean to you?
Love of wisdom! It’s about learning why we are here, what we are supposed to be doing on this planet. That is actually all: I can go down through all the different avenues of life but the journey should always start from philosophy.
What have been the stand-out influences in your life?
My parents are the biggest influence by a long shot. Next would be my friend Nicholas and then my grandmother, especially the Dublin one. Then next on the list of influences would be the School and my friends.
How would you describe yourself now?
Personality tests say that I am disciplined and will make my own way irrespective of anything. I have been on a Vegan diet for twenty years. This does train your mind to be quite disciplined and open. Shyness has been my biggest life challenge. I don’t know how I changed that, but I wanted to combat that social anxiety thing, and managed to. I go to Toastmasters nowadays (where has that shy guy gone)! I love hanging out with friends and my girlfriend. Salsa is next on my list of priorities. I’ve been dancing for over ten years, so no more lessons are necessary now.