There is nothing like a track meet at Glendale College. One could call it a mini sports festival. The spectator would see running and field events going on at the same time, and hear the announcer booming results and event times; it is really a spectacle to immerse one’s self in.
Nobody knows these sights and sounds as well as Tom McMurray.
Despite retiring as the Director of Track and Field in 2005, after 28 years as the head coach of the track and field teams at the college, McMurray was back in his element for the Vaqueros first home meet in 2008 at Sartoris Field. His function that day was to supervise and help the hurdle crew get the barriers on and off the track for the running events. However, he also got caught up in the excitement and moved about the facility talking up the athletes and coaches and basking in one more day on the track.
McMurray recalls that he began his track career at Verdugo Hills High School. He explains that, “I was fortunate to run for Coach Morehouse and he got me turned around from being a football player to a cross country and track athlete.’’ McMurray also remembers the pride he felt when he carried the torch for the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley while still at the high school.
Looking back on his days as an athlete at Glendale College, where he ran for hall of fame coach Ed Tucker, McMurray said that what he learned at the college helped shape his future. “Coach Tucker was very influential for me and a lot of other athletes in not only developing our skills as athletes but in helping us become better people and utilizing our potential to the fullest.’’
McMurray has spent his share of time on the track at Glendale, not only coaching at the school for almost three decades, but also competing as a Vaquero himself from 1963-64, when he was conference champion in the 880 as well as team captain and track and field athlete of the year. He coached at Glendale from 1976 to 2005 and along the way helped train 13 individual state champions and was part of the staff that coached four men’s state championship teams in cross country.
After competing for Brigham Young University from 1967-1968, McMurray served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. He started his coaching career at Don Bosco Tech in 1972 before moving on to Santa Monica High School from 1973-74. He found success at GCC immediately as his 1976 cross country team won the state title. His highlights at Glendale also include helping to maintain the Vaqueros dual meet unbeaten streak until it reached 123 straight in 1988 as well as 14 consecutive conference titles.
Eddie Lopez, the current head coach of cross country and track and field at Glendale, ran for McMurray from 1978 to 1980. Lopez considers him a mentor as an athlete and a coach. “The college has had tremendous coaches from all the way back to Walt Smith, Ed Tucker and John Tansley. Coach McMurray definitely belongs in that category,’’ said Lopez. “The foundation for the 2007 state champions women’s cross country team comes from the lessons I learned from him. He taught me how to relate to the athletes, how to prepare for a track meet and how to be a teacher. Everything I know I learned from Tom McMurray.’’