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Chris Murray is on the court on a year-round basis while running multiple basketball programs in the East Haven Recreation Department. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Murray )
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Chris Murray is a staple at the recreation level in East Haven’s basketball community. Whether he’s running the men’s league, a free clinic for youngsters aged 6 to 12, or involved with the Sal Tinari Biddy Basketball League, Chris always remains around the game in town.
“I just love it. It’s a passion of mine,” says Chris, who lives in East Haven. “It’s very satisfying for me to give back what I was taught through the years by various coaches of mine. It’s very gratifying for me to give back to these kids and see the progress they make.”
Chris grew up in West Haven and graduated from West Haven High School in 1990. In 1987, Chris suited up for the Blue Devils when they defeated Hillhouse to win the Class LL state championship.
“I played three sports growing up—basketball, baseball, and football. Baseball was my first love, but basketball was a close second and took over,” Chris says. “I practiced all the time. I was in my teens playing five or six hours a day, trying to get myself better. I was, or still am, super competitive.”
Chris became affiliated with East Haven basketball when his oldest daughter Faith started playing. When his younger daughter Kelsey took up the sport in 2nd grade, Chris got even more involved. Lou Pane, the town’s Director of Recreation, says he’s happy to have a dedicated person like Chris aboard as a key member of East Haven’s basketball scene.
“Chris has always been a great employee for our department. He’s considerate, and he is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure the job is done correctly. That’s why our men’s league is one of the best in the area. We continue to have good numbers here,” Pane says. “He also runs our children’s basketball program that runs two nights a week. We’re up to 60 kids, and he does an outstanding job of teaching them the fundamentals. Being a former player himself carries over to his motivation that he gives to the players that he teaches and the instructions that he gives.”
Chris’s basketball duties keep him busy throughout the year, but he loves being at the court, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Chris’s kids’ clinic and men’s league are running through the next few months, the Sal Tinari League takes place from November through February, and Chris also coaches an AAU program based out of Notre-Dame West Haven during the spring and summer.
“It’s something I tell my daughters I never had when I was growing up. Clinics, AAU—those are things I didn’t have, so I’m giving back to try to get her and everyone better,” says Chris, who works as a conductor for Metro-North Railroad. “West Haven is a town that’s used to winning a lot, so a drive I got as a younger kid was learning to win, getting better, and playing for good teams through the year to grow my passion for the game. That stems over to me teaching these kids here in East Haven now.”
The big size of the kids’ clinic caused the East Haven Recreation Department to expand the session to two nights per week. This gives Chris and his fellow coaches the time that they need to run the program to his standards.
“It runs from 6 to 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have the younger kids come in for the first hour, because I’m able to put the rims lower at [Tuttle Elementary School] for them, and then the older kids come in for the final hour. It’s hard to have that many kids in for one night,” says Chris. “The parents seem to love it. The kids are very engaged, and I’m trying to get them ready for the next level of learning skills, so they are ready. I think it’s a successful clinic for these kids.”
Chris feels honored that he gets to share his passion for basketball in East Haven. It means a lot to Chris that everyone has a good time while learning about the game.
“I love basketball, and it’s very gratifying to give back to all these kids,” says Chris. “It’s good to give back what I have learned to these kids. That’s what is most important to me. I have a passion to give back.”
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