Traci Murphy joined the university as director of athletics in 2018, bringing with her over 25 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics.

Murphy began her career as an athletic trainer and rose through the administrative ranks to where she is today. Still, her “why” remains the same, which is to create the conditions and atmosphere that support student-athletes in their pursuit of success in the classroom and in their sport.

Q: Can you tell us about the athletics department upon your arrival at Daemen and how you’ve seen it grow since starting here?

A: Daemen made a very big decision in 2014 to enter NCAA Division II. Upon my arrival, the institution had completed the transition period and was a full, active member of the East

Coast Conference. The foundation I acquired upon my arrival was first-class, poised to tackle a new division very well. And that’s exactly what Daemen has done.

We’ve had numerous regular season champions, regular season championships, several appearances at NCAA tournaments, athletes of the year, and even an NCAA Woman of the Year top 30 finalist. The program has grown in the number of sports, the number of student-athletes, and the amazing development of our coaches. It’s a group of staff, student-athletes, and coaches who have fully embraced our goals, where we’re going, and what we want to do. We all love the job.

Q: What do you see as the role of a university athletics program – for both the athletes as well as a campus entity?

Daemen womens lacrosse player

A: College athletics should support the university’s mission, which is to prepare students for life after graduation.

Student-athletes learn critical life lessons as athletes. They learn leadership, self-discipline, teamwork, communication skills, time management, and fitness habits – all of which can be carried on. And it’s supplemental to what they’re getting in the classroom. If you just look at the amount of leadership, self- responsibility, and accountability that they learn being on

a team, it’s clear that they are becoming well-rounded and very, very marketable.

Athletics also plays a key role in nurturing university-wide traditions, school spirit, and unity. It gives our community events to rally around. When the stands are filled with cheering fans,

that fuels the success of our teams. That kind of support and camaraderie helps to foster a lifelong relationship with the institution for each student-athlete.

Q: Your strategic vision is referred to as The Wildcat Way. Can you talk about what that means and how it was developed?

Mens basketball players hugging on the court

A: In my first year in athletics, it was important to observe everything about our program so we could begin planning for the next five years. The strategic planning process was truly collaborative. Our coaches, administrators, and even student-athletes came together to evaluate the then-current plan and discuss what we hadn’t achieved and why. We were able
to outline the items that would be important to enable our division to reach the level of sustained success we aspired to. We identified goals that would be challenging but also achievable, while ensuring our plan aligned with the institution’s strategic vision.

“The Wildcat Way” is the foundation and the motivation for what we do every day in athletics. The core values make up the acronym FIERCE – Fearless, Integrity, Effort, Respect, Commitment, Excitement. We believe in excellence and doing the best we can. We’re not afraid of challenging ourselves in the classroom or on the athletic surface, giving this community something they can be proud of.

We’ve really done a lot within our space to brand and remind everybody of our core values, what “The Wildcat Way” is, why we’re here, and what we mean to the institution – the past, the present, and the future.

Q: What do you hope for the future of Daemen athletics program and what’s next?

Womens basketball coach cutting down net after win

A: My funny line is,“I hope for the need to buy more trophy cases,” but, in all seriousness, our goal is facility enhancement and improvement. We really need to continue to improve the visuals and the space itself.

We need to provide facilities that match the talent that we are bringing to Daemen. We have the Royal Park project – the partnership with the town of Amherst that we received a state grant for – which we hope will break ground soon. That site will be the first of its kind, Daemen’s own off-campus athletics recreation facility.

We’re also planning capital improvements of the gym, preferably in an expansion, so that we can host larger-scale events, tournaments, and community opportunities. That kind of growth would be huge for us from a brand awareness standpoint nationally, which also brings opportunities for competitive jobs and expanded sports offerings.

People will know about Daemen athletics and the success of our programs. I’m hoping there’ll be a line out the door to try out for our teams.

…And we’ll fill more trophy cases.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about Daemen Athletics?

A: We are very fortunate to have our coaches. We are very, very lucky to have our unbelievable student- athletes. The success we have is a direct result of their energy and efforts in recruitment and support services that attract and enable these athletes to continue this tradition of success.

It takes a village. This is all of us, not just me. I get told I am too humble at times… I may be sitting in the chair, but I cannot do this without our staff. There is stellar support from faculty, administration, and cabinet. We do this all together – the whole institution. I have to give credit where credit is due.