After 17 years and 290 wins, Tim Murdoch is stepping down as McGill’s men’s lacrosse coach, leaving an impressive legacy behind him. He led the team from its first ever win to an undefeated regular season in 2019, four national championship appearances, and two championship titles.
When Murdoch first came to McGill in 2003, the men’s lacrosse team had never won a single regular-season game. This changed in the opening game of his first season at McGill, when they beat the Carleton University Ravens 8–6.
“Changing your mindset from losing all the time to actually being able to win is huge,” Murdoch said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “It was a really important moment for our team.”
Less than 10 years later, in 2012, McGill won their first Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) Championship. To achieve this, the team had to win two games in 24 hours against two of the top teams in Canada: The University of Guelph and The University of Western Ontario (UWO). In the championship game against Western, they won in double overtime. McGill would go on to win the championship again in 2015.
Murdoch has learned a lot about being a leader in his time at McGill.
“I’m not, by nature, a calm person, so that has been my biggest personal challenge,” Murdoch said. “[To] just stay calm and believe in your team.”
Murdoch also feels that it is important to be open and honest about your weaknesses as a leader and to surround yourself with other leaders who complement your own style.
“Assistant coaches are hugely important to your success as a team, especially as the size of our roster has expanded from 17 players to 47 players,” Murdoch said. “In my case, I’ve been fortunate to have attracted very talented assistant coaches.”
Murdoch’s son Max has been on the team for the past five years. Max, who was elected team captain in 2018, has been involved with McGill’s lacrosse program since he was seven years old.
“It has been a neat connection that he and I [have] enjoyed for the past five seasons,” Murdoch said. “I’m really happy to have gone through the experience with him. That’s another reason why I think the timing of my departure is appropriate. He is graduating, we have strong coaches in place, and we are stable financially.”
After retirement, Murdoch is planning a four-month trip to Asia and the South Pacific with his wife Pascale (B.Sc. ‘87). Being away from her many nights and almost every weekend in the Fall for the past 17 years has been difficult.
“My wife has been incredibly supportive,” Murdoch said. “I’m really excited about having more flexibility and free time for my own family and my wife and my kids.”
As for his ‘day job’ as a marketing consultant and partner in a real estate firm, Murdoch has no plans of retiring. He is ready for a well-deserved rest from coaching, however, and he remains uncertain about his future involvement with the lacrosse team.
“The new head coach will take charge in 2020,” Murdoch said. “If he thinks that I may be able to support the program in 2020 in non-coaching roles […], I may be able to stay involved on a limited basis. [Either way,] I will definitely be McGill Lacrosse’s number one fan.”
McGill’s undefeated season ended on Nov. 9 at Molson Stadium with a 6–5 loss to UWO in the semifinal stage of the national championship tournament. Next season, they look to avenge their loss and become national champions once again.