Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy has spent plenty of time around wrestling mats, with three of his children having competed for Newton High School (and a fourth having been part of club wrestling). That led him to get hands-on in the experience, volunteering to help with the annual Newton Tournament of Champions.
This year marks the fifth for Murphy assisting with the TOC (he has also helped at regional and state tournaments), where he spends his time helping run one of the scoring tables to keep track of the multiple matches going on at a time. With the reputation the tournament has gained over the years, it is a role he is happy to fill — and one he takes very seriously.
"It's an honor to sit and help run this tournament. If it wasn't for some volunteers working the tables and stuff, I don't know that the tournament would be as big of a success as what it is," Murphy said. "This tournament has a long history of being a high quality tournament where you get to wrestle some of the competitors that you may not get to, and so you've got a lot of competition going on there. That makes it all that much more important to make sure that you have things correct because there's nothing more frustrating than sitting in the stands and knowing that what's showing on the scoreboard is not correct."
Working the scorer's table is not something Murphy does alone, and he has done it with several others who have donated a lot of their time volunteering over the 55-year history of the tournament. Still, Murphy knows that NHS could also use more assistance — and sometimes struggles finding it — putting on the tournament, so he recruited his oldest son, Morgan, to join him in helping work the TOC this year.
Having both wrestled in high school and officiated at the club level, his son also has that personal investment in the sport. While the father and son duo will not be working at the same table during the TOC, Murphy said he was glad to see Morgan be receptive to the opportunity to help out — as lending a hand has become second nature to the former.
"My wife and I, both, have volunteered for different things. That's just kind of the way we are," Murphy said. "We're willing to volunteer and we like to see our kids also have some of that social responsibility giving back."
That's something Murphy noted was instilled in him by his mother, getting involved at church and in 4-H from a young age. He has continued that on since having kids of his own, noting he and his wife have served as community leaders in 4-H while he has also been on the fair board and is currently part of the 4-H developmental committee.
For Murphy, part of his enjoyment in helping with the TOC is watching the work the wrestlers have put in and take with them onto the mat. He, too, has put in work — work in service to the community in a variety of ways. While volunteering at the TOC is something he enjoys, he noted there are numerous opportunities around Newton for those interested and looking to give back.
"There's lots of ways to volunteer in the community; this is one of them," Murphy said. "There's a whole host of non-profit organizations that could always use help with projects."