Softball brought Noreen Murphy to Saskatoon in 1980 and she has made Saskatchewan her home ever since.
Murphy was recruited to join the women’s national softball champions, the Saskatoon Harmony Centre team, after her Toronto team played them in 1978 and 1979. With Murphy, Harmony Centre won the 1980 national championship and earned the right to represent Canada at the first World Games in Santa Clara, California in 1981.
After moving to Lloydminster for work, Murphy found a new opportunity. Brian Gislason, the coach of the Lloydminster AAA Blues Midget team was familiar with her from her play and asked her to join the coaching staff. The Blues won the midget national championship in 1985 and 1986 and when Murphy returned to Saskatoon she was offered a head coaching role with Lorne’s Lazers.
Lorne’s Lazers won eight straight provincial titles between 1987 and 1994 under Murphy – one midget under-19 title, five junior under-21 titles, and two senior titles. During that run, Lorne’s Lazers finished fourth at nationals on three occasions.
Saskatoon’s Bob Van Impe, himself an SSHF inductee and the president of the Canadian Amateur Softball Association for 17 years, encouraged Murphy to get involved at the national team level. She became the second woman on the national team staff, joining the program in 1989 and spending 14 years with the national teams.
Murphy was the assistant coach on Canada’s team at the 1991 Junior Women’s Softball World Championship in Adelaide, Australia and again in 1995 in Normal, Illinois where Canada finished fifth, their highest finish. She was added to the senior national team staff before softball made its Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996. Her duties included pre-scouting the opposition, practice planning, and one-on-one skill development with the players as needed. Canada would finish fifth in Atlanta, just missing out on the medal round.
A year later she served as the provincial team head coach guiding Team Sask to the 1997 Canada Games in Brandon where they finished fifth. Murphy returned to the junior national team as the head coach guiding them to a fifth-place finish at the 2003 world championships in Nanjing, China where they lost a playoff game 1-0 to the hosts in front of 10,000 boisterous fans.
Murphy was also the first head coach of the national Elite team, created to bridge the gap between the junior program and the full senior national team. In 2004, Murphy was also Canada’s coach for the University Games where they finished fourth and was once again part of the senior team staff at the Olympic Games in Athens.
Beyond coaching softball, Murphy has helped develop and mentor other coaches. She chaired Softball Canada’s Long-Term Player Development Committee which created the Athlete Development Matrix for all stages of player development. In recent years she has become the Program Chair for Saskatoon Minor Softball’s Timbits program. In that role, she looked after the programming, development and orientation of coaches while also working with players and serving on the board.
Installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on September 23, 2023.