Longtime Texhoma, Felt basketball coach Ron Murphey passes away

Former Texhoma and Felt basketball coach Ron Murphey, left, is shown with his wife Diane on Jan. 9, 2015 during a ceremony at Felt High School honoring his 400th career basketball win. Murphey, a longtime coach at Texhoma and Felt, passed away on Tuesday. Services are Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Texhoma High School gym. (Shawn Yorks/file)Felt Basketball coach Ron Murphey, left, receives the championship plaque of the Texhoma Invitational Tournament from Texhoma coach Greg Higgins on Jan. 26, 2015. Higgins was an assistant under Murphey for several years and considered him to be a mentor. Murphey passed away Tuesday in Oklahoma City. (Shawn Yorks/file)
By: 
SHAWN YORKS
Sports Editor

Ron Murphey was more than just a basketball coach.

Father.

Grandfather.

Neighbor.

Teacher.

Mentor.

Murphey coached many years at Texhoma and Felt, winning more than 400 games, numerous district, regional and area championships, and the 1994 state championship at Texhoma.
Murphey passed away Tuesday afternoon at Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City. He was 68.

Murphey’s passing was a shock to everyone who knew him, and many reflected Wednesday on time they spent with him as a player and coach.

“Coach Murphey was an amazing coach,” said former Felt High School player Braden Schnaufer. “He always knew exactly what to say and when to say it. He knew which buttons to push at the right time every time, and he definitely knew how to push all the buttons he needed to.”

Texhoma basketball coach Greg Higgins was an assistant under Murphey for seven years before taking over as head coach in 2000. He was on the sidelines with Murphey when the Red Devils won the 1994 state championship.

“It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of somebody like that,” Higgins said. “He meant a lot to Texhoma. A lot of his former players are coaches now.”

Coach Murphey was Principal and boys basketball coach at Felt in Cimarron County from 1971-1980, principal, athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Texhoma from 1981-2000 and superintendent at Plainview (Okla.) from 2001-2011. He came out of retirement to coach the Felt Bulldogs during the 2014-2015 season and earned his 400th career win. He was honored for that win on Jan. 9, 2015 during a game between the Felt Bulldogs and Hardesty Bison.

The gym was full of Texhoma fans who remembered Murphey’s accomplishments at their school.

The numbers are impressive: 400-plus career wins; 15 district championships; 10 regional championships; five state tournament appearances, and the 1994 state championship. He received a proclamation for his accomplishments from the State of Oklahoma, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

But a coach is more than just wins and losses.

“A lot of time after games, I’d always pick his brain,” Higgins said. “I learned a lot from him. When I came in and took over after him, I didn’t change anything, just a few tweaks here and there.
“He liked coaching. He was a teacher of the game.”

Higgins pushed for Murphey to be on the list for the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“He deserves that. People know him throughout the state,” Higgins said. “Just getting on that list is quite an accomplishment with those wins at two schools. With small school basketball, you go though the ups and downs with the different classes that come through, it’s quite an accomplishment.”

Murphey would still come visit with Higgins about basketball after his retirement.

“He’d chuckle at the things I was dealing with,” Higgins said. “I always picked his brain after games, what do we need to be doing? What’s our weak spots? A lot of people don’t have that.”

Schnaufer played for Murphey for one season, but learned a lot from the coach that will help him at the next level.

“Murphey knew about the game as well or better than anyone I’ve ever met, and he taught it in ways everyone could understand,” Schnaufer said. “But he wasn’t always so serious and there was more to him than just the game of basketball.”

Murphey cared about the kids and would do anything he could to help them, “Never failing to make us laugh or have a good time,” Schnaufer said.

“But it was also deeper than that. He loved and cared for every player he had ever coached. He always asked how everyone’s day was going. Or how one’s family has been even if he hasn’t seen them in years. He taught us that being kind and being the bigger person in every situation we are in is a choice and it’s just up to us to make the right one,” Schnaufer said.

“Coach Murphey has made a huge impact on my life and many more in his long and happy life. From every person I’ve ever known to know him I can say without a doubt they love him. I can only say that it was one of my greatest experiences and one of the biggest privileges of my life to have been coached by such a great man.”

Services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday in the Texhoma High School gymnasium.

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