Murphy’s Impact for Carnegie Mellon Goes Beyond the Honors on the Basketball Court
Lisa Murphy is the most accomplished women's basketball player in Carnegie Mellon University history. Period. But while her achievements on the court are certainly prolific, it is the work she's done off the court that has made a lasting impact on the university and local communities.
Murphy became the all-time leading scorer for CMU when she surpassed a 34-year-old mark during the team's record-setting NCAA second round win in 2016. As a junior, Murphy started the year with a 33-point performance in the season-opener to record her 1,000th point and closed the year as the first Tartan to be named to the WBCA NCAA Division III Coaches' All-America Team, leading the nation with 657 points.
Records are something Murphy started to break her first season in a Tartan uniform when she toppled five program single-season records, including points scored, field goals made, field-goal percentage, free throws made and free throws attempted. She collected Rookie of the Year honors from the University Athletic Association (UAA) coaches and regionally from D3hoops.com following her debut campaign.
With an impressive first-year shooting percentage of .628, which led one of the nation's toughest conferences, it wouldn't have come as a surprise if Murphy's shooting touch faltered during her sophomore year. But she shot even better her second season in uniform at .664 and elevated her percentage to a staggering .752 her junior season. Her shooting percentage led not only the nation for the second year running, but broke the NCAA Division III record. All of that with her shot attempts rising each year along with her made field goals, a third category she led the nation in following the 2015-16 season.
"Lisa is a gifted scholar-athlete who has challenged herself to grow as a player and person each and every season at Carnegie Mellon University," head coach Jacquie Hullah said. "Her work ethic, competitiveness and leadership skills have taken our program to new heights."
Her efforts haven't been lost by her opponents.
"Lisa plays extremely well with her back to the basket. What makes her so tough to guard is that she also runs the court and has a face-up game. She is a complete player," Washington University in St. Louis head coach Nancy Fahey said. "The true sign of a great competitor is one that continues to improve from one year to the next. Lisa has proved to be one of the best."
While Murphy, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, was setting the tone for an outstanding basketball career, she was also focused on who she could be away from the court.
As a psychology major, Murphy has been laying the foundation for a future in childhood education through internships, volunteer activities and community service.
For Murphy, what she's achieved on the basketball court gives her more reason to help others off it.
"I feel very lucky to be at a school like CMU and be given the opportunities that I have," said Murphy. "Any chance I have to be able to give back to others is something I like to take advantage of. So if I have free time, why not do some sort of community service project."
Community service opportunities were something Murphy looked for in universities while on the recruiting trail. In Carnegie Mellon, she found not only a university passionate about service to others but a highly active athletics program also enthusiastic about making a difference.
From Carnegie Mellon's 1000Plus Day of Service to the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) Field Day and food drives, Murphy has been immersed in participation and takes pride in leadership roles, such as the one she took on when the university hosted the Western Spring Sectional competition of the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania in April 2016.
Admitting it was a lot of work organizing the 3v3 basketball competition where she managed more than 100 athletes, parents and coaches, Murphy said the experience was well worth the time to see the athletes competing and enjoying the moment.
"Lisa is one of the most committed and hardest-working students I have ever been around," said Director of Athletics Josh Centor. "She is passionate about many things, and utilizes her incredible talent and work ethic to make an impact across multiple domains. She is a leader among leaders, and truly affects the world around her in a positive way."
Murphy hasn't limited her service to opportunities on campus. She has found ways to help the surrounding community by joining the First Trinity Homeless Ministry and CMU's Service Saturday where she has packed and delivered lunches to people who are homeless or marginally housed and cleaned up local trails to help Pittsburgh maintain its beauty.
"On Sundays when possible, I like to spend my time with the First Trinity Homeless Ministry," said Murphy. "We set out to stimulate conversations and help those who are struggling daily have a better day."
Last spring, Murphy was invited to apply for membership to Carnegie Mellon's Mortar Board Eta chapter, a senior honor society whose members are selected based on leadership, academic excellence and dedication to service.
Through Mortar Board this fall, Murphy planned a Fall Fest event for more than 70 parents and children of Carnegie Mellon's Children School and Cyert School.
The event wasn't Murphy's first interaction with the students of the Children's School. As a sophomore, Murphy was a practicum intern serving as a teacher's assistant in the kindergarten classroom where she composed a case study on a bilingual child.
Murphy knows she'll make her career working with children and has made time in her class schedule to take extra internship opportunities off campus. During her junior year, she worked seven hours a week in an autism support classroom at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh and this year began work at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh, where she assists in an inclusive first-grade classroom for a full day each Monday.
During each summer, while she was working toward strength and fitness goals for the upcoming basketball season, Murphy worked as a teacher, an aide or a counselor with children's programs tailored to help preschool and school-age kids with disabilities.
"I plan to attend graduate school for early childhood special education," said Murphy. "I've always known I wanted to work with children but these internships have given me the opportunity to narrow down the field.
"In all the community service activities and internships I've done I've gotten to meet a lot of special people," continued Murphy. "I really enjoy being able to make connections with people on a more intimate level and along the way I've learned to connect in less explicit ways."
While Murphy's aware she has one more season of collegiate basketball, she knows she has a lifetime to continue to make a difference to those less fortunate.
"What inspires me the most about Lisa is her humility and her willingness to put others' needs before her own. I think Lisa doesn't truly know the lasting impact that she has had on me as a person and basketball player and the impact she's had on the greater Carnegie Mellon community," said sophomore teammate Jenn Mayberger. "She inspires me to work hard and her commitment to community service, whether it be through coordinating the Special Olympics at CMU last spring, being involved in 1000Plus, and all of the many service projects she's a part of, has left a great legacy which will inspire students to come."
Senior teammate Jackie Hudepohl shares Mayberger's sentiments.
"I think it's obvious that Lisa is a great basketball player, but I can honestly say that she's an even better person, teammate, and friend," said Hudepohl. "I have never met someone with the same combination of humility, dedication, and selflessness. Her work ethic shines in everything she does ̶ from basketball to school to more community service projects than I can keep track of ̶ but the most impressive thing is that she always directs individual praise toward her teammates. Lisa is all about helping the team and those around her, and genuinely doesn't realize the individual impact that she has had."
From the court to the community, Lisa Murphy has shown herself to be a consummate leader. With her relentless drive and positive, caring attitude towards those around her, she has set NCAA records and helped to better the lives of others.