After running track for Loyola the last two years, junior Ciara Murray decided to drop the sport and pursue her real passion: soccer.
The Murray name holds a strong presence in the Loyola Athletics Department, and even more so within the cross country and track program. The Murrays are a Rambler dynasty. Sean Murray, who graduated in 2011, ran sprints for the Ramblers. Declan Murray, who is considered one of the best runners in Loyola’s history and currently holds four individual records, ran mid-distance until he graduated in 2013. Brigid Murray graduated just last year after running four years of sprints for the Ramblers.
In high school, Murray was team captain and MVP for Magnificat High School’s varsity soccer team in 2012 and 2013. She played for the Cleveland Futbol Club and won the Ohio North state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
When it came to collegiate recruitment during her junior year of high school, she knew she wanted to go to Loyola whether it was for soccer or track and field. Loyola’s women’s soccer head coach Barry Bimbi said he remembers meeting Murray as a junior interested in continuing her soccer career.
Bimbi said she wasn’t the right fit for the team at the time.
In fall 2013, Murray began training with Loyola’s track and field coaches. She ran the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter races.
Murray, who is majoring in finance and marketing, said she looks at her track experience in a positive light, adding that the coaches worked with her individually to improve her running technique and she made a lot of friends.
But this summer, Murray decided to come out of her soccer retirement and try out for the women’s soccer team one more time.
“She approached me late in the summer and kind of expressed her interest in trying out for the team,” said Bimbi. “She’s friends with a couple of our players, so I kind of took that information, and I had conversations with [the track coaches] because we wanted everything to be out in the open, and she had discussed this with them so it was kind of an open invitation … It was kind of her true passion … she didn’t want to have any regrets I guess.”
Murray made the women’s soccer roster for the 2015 season. She said her transition has gone smoothly.
“The transition has been good and since I was [already] really great friends with most girls on the team, it was really easy to start playing with my friends,” said Murray. “[My teammates] have all been really supportive.”
Bimbi said he thinks the hardest part of Murray’s transition is realizing she isn’t at the same level of experience as some of her teammates.
“She is picking it up a little bit,” Bimbi said. “She wants to be a little bit further ahead with where she’s going, which is tough from taking two years off from playing. So she is playing a little bit of catch up … We kind of have had conversations about how she has to think of herself almost as a freshman. She’s still learning.”
Although Murray is still sharpening her skills, she has seen action in four of the Ramblers’ six games this season.
Murray said she hopes to bring a positive energy to the team this year and help create team chemistry.
“I guess I’m still a new person, so that new positive energy would be good and a different change,” Murray said. “I’m working on being a good teammate on and off the field.”
Last season, the Ramblers held a 5-13-1 overall record, in part due to the team’s inability to capitalize on offensive opportunities. Bimbi said he believes Murray is a good addition to the midfield.
Loyola currently holds a 3-2-1 overall record. Murray and her team plan to travel to Wisconsin to play at the Marquette Invitational Sept. 11-13.