Between Monomoy And Mariners, Murray Is A Mainstay In Harwich Sports Scene

By: Brad Joyal

Monomoy Regional High School head athletic trainer Taylor Murray, also the head trainer for the Harwich Mariners, helps a Mariners player stretch out his arm at Whitehouse Field in Harwich. COURTESY PHOTO

Editor’s Note: In recognition of March being National Athletic Training Month, The Cape Cod Chronicle is publishing stories featuring each of the Lower Cape’s three high school trainers.

 

It’s one of the worst injury diagnoses an athlete could ever receive: a torn anterior cruciate ligament, also known as a torn ACL, or an athlete’s worst nightmare.

Taylor Murray’s torn ACL diagnosis came during soccer season in the fall of her freshman year at Mashpee High School. She entered ninth grade with plans of being a three-sport athlete who would play soccer, basketball and lacrosse.

Although her knee kept her off the hardwood, it did open Murray’s eyes to the possibility of a long-term future in sports.

“Going through that injury and all of the [physical therapy] piqued my interest into getting into it,” said Murray, a 2010 graduate of Mashpee High School who has worked as Monomoy Regional High School’s head athletic trainer since the school opened its doors in 2014.

“Originally, I thought I was going to go the physical therapy route, but once I figured out what demographic I wanted to work with — mainly athletes — that’s when they suggested athletic training to me and I started looking into it a lot more seriously,” she said.

Murray had an opportunity to get involved with the Cape Cod Baseball League as an athletic training student while she pursued her athletic training degree at Keene State University. By the time she graduated in the spring of 2014, she had gained valuable experience and felt ready when the Monomoy job opened up.

Despite having previous athletic training experience, Murray admitted that her first year was overwhelming.

“Being fresh out of college and getting a job in my field was amazing; not a lot of people can say it works out that well for them,” she said. “But I was definitely overwhelmed, especially because I was going to be starting the program and there wasn’t anything here before.”

Not only did Murray have to build the new high school’s athletic training program from scratch, she did so while also working as an instructional assistant in the school’s special needs program.

Instantly, Murray learned the importance of being mature and professional.

“Being 23 years old and working in a high school setting, you’re very young so you have to learn to establish boundaries and develop your professionalism very quickly because a lot of the kids see you as their friend,” Murray said. “In this field, you want to be able to build relationships with the kids, but at the same time they need to respect you and know when they would be crossing a line.”

Murray credits Nauset athletic trainer Michele Pavlu for helping her establish policies and procedures she could rely on when she was starting out.

“Luckily, Michele at Nauset was a great mentor and a great person who kind of helped me develop all of my policies and procedures and she gave me suggestions for how I did want to do things,” Murray said. “Michele was crucial to kind of finding myself as a trainer and identifying the type of trainer I wanted to be.”

The Mashpee native and current Harwich resident has also stayed busy outside of Monomoy sports. Since 2015, Murray has served as the Harwich Mariners’ head athletic trainer, which she describes as “a great opportunity.”

“You’re working with the highest level of athletes in baseball and it’s the best collegiate summer league in the country, so we meet a lot of good people and that allows us to develop our interpersonal skills,” Murray said. “Working with kids for two months, you need to get them to really trust you in those two months and build relationships. That’s going to make everyone’s roles a lot easier, if that’s the case.”

After eight years of beginning her day in the classroom before turning her attention to Monomoy’s athletic department, Murray shifted into a new role this year working as Monomoy athletic director Karen Guillemette’s administrative assistant.

“I would get to school at 8:30 a.m. and go to classes with students who needed one-on-one aid or assistance and then once it got to 3:15, I’d rush down to my office, get kids ready for sports and then head to games or practices or whatever was going on — doing rehabs if there were kids that had injuries and needed to get back on the field,” Murray said of her old schedule. “This year as an administrative assistant for Karen Guillemette, my day doesn’t start until 11. I’ll do some things for Karen first thing in the morning and then I get to focus on athletic training for the rest of the day.”

Guillemette had high praise for Murray and the work she does for the school.

“Taylor is an integral part of our athletic department,” Guillemette said. “I’ve worked with many athletic trainers over my career and she is one of the best. Our student-athletes’ health always comes first. We are lucky to have such a caring professional who puts in countless hours, keeping our student-athletes healthy and nursing them back from injury.”

Murray said she loves her job but acknowledges it’s a lot harder than most people realize. She said a lot of folks think of athletic trainers as people who only tape ankles and keep athletes hydrated. Those are two important components of athletic training, but there are many days, like the one when Murray tore her ACL, that can be chaotic for trainers.

“There are days that a kid fractures a bone and we have to take care of that and get everything situated and get the referral process done and provide emergency care,” Murray said. “I just don’t think a lot of people realize what athletic trainers are capable of. We are allied health professionals and we have multiple skills that we utilize on a day-to-day basis, it’s just not seen by the public all the time.”

As grueling — even daunting, sometimes — as the work can be, Murray insists she’s thrilled to work at Monomoy, even though she admits she always pictured herself working in a college setting rather than at a high school. Even it isn’t what she imagined, Murray said she’s a Cape girl who loves attending sporting events and concerts and hitting the beach with her friends and family, so she feels right at home making a difference on the Lower Cape.

“I always said I was going to work in a college setting and when I started at Monomoy, I said, ‘Oh, I’ll only be here for five years,’” Murray said. “It’s been eight years now and I love it. It’s very different, but I think we do a huge service for these kids and the amount of times kids come up and say, ‘Oh, you really had an impact on me in high school’ — it’s so gratifying to hear that we did make a difference for some of these kids. That makes it all worthwhile.”

 

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com.

Twitter: @BradJoyal