Western's Conor 'Goose' Murphy takes flight for the Mustangs volleyball team and the Canadian Armed Forces

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Conor 'Goose' Murphy with a volleyball

Jon Purdy


It’s the name most people know Conor Murphy by, and a fitting one for a guy who loves flying through the air, be it in a plane or on the volleyball court.

Murphy is a fiercely proud individual. He shows his purple pride playing for Western’s men’s volleyball team; he bleeds red and white while serving in the Canadian Air Force.

Murphy " a middle on the volleyball team and Officer Cadet with the Armed Forces " is currently assigned to Western to take the Commercial Aviation Management Program as part of his flight training. His love for volleyball and his country are now intertwined, as Murphy has been selected to the Canadian Forces national volleyball team.

“To represent your country is the highest honour,” Murphy says. “I do it putting on the uniform day to day. Now, to go out and represent my country playing the sport I love, it’s unbelievable.”

Much of campus has heard of “Goose.” He’s quick to smile and well-liked, particularly among his Western teammates.

“He’s one of the hardest working guys on the team; he’s by far one of our leaders,” says Josh Chisholm, a Mustang volleyball co-captain. “Goose is really intense, but he also brings a lot of fun to the court.”

He gets along so well, in fact, that his teammates won’t pass up the opportunity to poke fun at his military side.

“They give me a hard time, calling me ‘sir,’” Murphy says with a laugh. “Sometimes they salute me " they always come up with something.”

“We usually make a lot of Top Gun references,” Chisholm says. “We’re really proud of him,” he adds. “Conor’s a great guy.”

Murphy was selected to the Canadian Forces national team in December after being invited to training camp by coach Denis Gabourie.

Gabourie heard about Murphy while coaching at Queen’s University. One of his players suggested he look into a Mustang volleyballer who was also in the Armed Forces. Gabourie is excited about Murphy’s addition, since he’s the only university-experienced player on the team besides those from Royal Military College.

Murphy hadn’t even heard of the military team when Gabourie contacted him.

“I was gearing up for this to be my last year of competitive athletics,” Murphy says. “Now I finish my university career and the next week I’m in training camp in either Cuba or Brazil.”

In October, Murphy will travel to India for the Military World Games, where the Canadian Forces will compete in a wide array of sports against the world’s armed forces.

“[Travel] really puts a perspective on things,” says Murphy. “You realize how fortunate we as Canadians are.”

Whether he’s discussing his school or his country, Murphy’s pride is obvious. He seems to grow a foot taller when talking about the Armed Forces.

“Canadian Forces members have pride every day they go to work,” he says. “Whether you’re on the west coast of B.C. training to be a navy officer or in Afghanistan, there’s always a sense of pride.

“If I wasn’t here at school I would be putting on a uniform. I still wear my dog tags everyday, just to remind me of what I’m working towards.”

He’s working toward big dreams. Murphy hopes to help people by flying planes to transport aid or work search-and-rescue missions.

“When the Tsunami hit in southeast Asia, they had planes flying around the world to deliver supplies. That’s what I want to do.”

His military and volleyball skills have been valuable and transferable between both facets of his life.

“I take the team aspect from volleyball,” he says. “You need every person on the volleyball court every play. There’s always someone doing the little things that make the difference.

“I’m not really the big gun on the team, but I take pride in doing the little things.”

The Armed Forces, meanwhile, have honed his self-discipline on the court.

“On the road, fans go out of their way and jeer us. The military has really taught me to have thick skin,” he says.

“There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and having someone yell at you because a button is undone on one of your dress shirts,” he jokes.

No amount of yelling can keep Murphy down, it seems. Proud as usual, he made one last plug for his team.

“[The Mustangs] have two huge games this weekend,” he says. “There’s nothing more exciting than playing in front of a large crowd at Alumni Hall.”

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