The beloved community-building 8th grade vs. faculty game celebrates a milestone year
This Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the Michael Murphy 8th Grade vs. Faculty Basketball Game, a beloved tradition named after former Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) teacher and coach Michael Murphy, who passed away in 2015 and was one of the game’s most ardent supporters.
The event is coordinated through the Lower & Middle Schools’ (LMS) athletic department and the P-8 Parents’ Association Athletics Booster Club.
Murphy’s friend and colleague Jeff Reynolds, LMS boys’ athletic director, spoke about the tradition and what the event means to the community.
“I think everyone would agree that Mike was the heart and soul of the campus; he was very involved in our Masses and prayer and taught pretty much every eighth-grade kid whether it was math or religion,” said Reynolds. “This game is one of the ways our community remembers him and the incredible impact he made on our students and colleagues.”
Murphy also served as a deacon on campus, and coached girls’ and boys’ basketball.
The event is “an important community-building event on campus—we fill the gym with 700 people on a normal year,” said Reynolds, who noted that due to the pandemic, attendance may not be quite as high this Friday. Last year, the pandemic necessitated skipping the annual game.
Any eighth-grade boy can participate—they do not need to be on a basketball team, said Reynolds. And students across the grades get involved with the event. Each year different activities include younger students—students select the music and act as “DJs” throughout the event; and three-point shooting contests at half-time also get younger ages involved. This year, cast members of the LMS spring musical, Mary Poppins, Jr., will perform the National Anthem to open the game.
And what few people may know about the friendly rivalry, Reynolds said, is that the faculty doesn’t always win. “The kids have won seven times, and faculty have won 22 out of 29 times.”
At the middle school assembly on Wednesday, two high school boys shared their memories of the game, and two high school girls talked about highlights from the companion eighth grade girls’ event to come later this spring on May 24th—the Campbell Cup, a flag football game against Menlo School celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. That event is in honor of Bill Campbell, an SHS coach, parent of two alumni, and longtime supporter of the school.
Referencing the Murphy basketball game, Luke Johnston (SHP ’22) recalled how meaningful the game was to his eighth-grade class. “We loved the chance to compete with our faculty and staff at such a wonderful event. The build-up the week before the game was similar to that of an important playoff game. Not only were we excited to play the teachers, but we wanted to win, too.”
The game is this Friday, March 4th at 4:00 p.m. in the Spieker Pavilion; prior to the game the Booster Club will host activities and food for students and their families in the Michael Murphy Grove starting at 3:15 p.m. There is no cost to attend the event this year; the Booster Club will give a donation to the Michael E. Murphy Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides annual financial aid support to one or more SHS students in preschool-eighth grade.