Owen goalkeepr commits to Sewanee
It's been a busy four years for Owen High School senior James Murray. He played on the school's tennis team and even held down a job.
In the meantime, he was also introduced to the sport of soccer, which he will now be playing on the collegiate level at Sewanee The University of the South.
Murray signed a letter of intent to play goalkeeper for the NCAA Division III Tigers, which went 7-10-2 in the Southern Athletic Association a year ago.
"It's a huge relief for me," he said after signing a letter of intent on April 21 in Owen media center.
Murray's sort of a lifelong soccer player, just not necessarily in the traditional sense.
"I played a little when I was like five, just kicking the ball around with my dad," Murray said. "I played a little in middle school too, but not competitively."
But once Murray stepped in front of goal for the Warhorses as a freshman head coach David Fiest knew he had the right tools to be successful in the sport.
"He's got great reflexes and he's quick," Fiest said of Murray. "And we were fortunate that while he was here he really discovered his passion for the game."
Murray's mother, Jane Cox Childress, and father, Bart Murray, said their son's playing at the collegiate level was built upon the foundation of his playing for Owen and Highlands Football Club.
"He plays tennis too," Childress said. "So every day he has to manage his time, go play tennis, and then take care of his academic work. And he works too, so he's put a lot of time into this."
It's that work ethic and leadership that makes Murray a good fit on any team, according to Fiest.
"He really has a drive to get better all the time," Fiest said. "He's one of the most improved players I've ever seen."
Murray's skills in goal for the Warhorses were perhaps best displayed during his performance in a win against the Forbush Falcons, the top-seeded team in the state playoffs in the 2016 season. The Warhorses fought the Falcons to a 0-0 tie through regulation, resulting in a shootout. Murray held Forbush to two goals while his Warhorse teammates poured in four.
Following the game Murray was asked about his mindset heading into such a high-pressure shootout.
"My thought is always 'Yes!' when we go into shootouts," he told The Black Mountain News. "I love shootouts so much."