Alan Murdoch went to a curling rink for the first time when he was just six years old. Alongside his father, he learned to curl and immediately fell in love with the sport. Fast forward to 1969 when he graduated from Iowa State University. Instead of leaving campus, he stuck around and began working for Rec Services. Part of his job was to oversee Intramurals – flag football, basketball, broomball, men’s and women’s hockey, and many more. Feeding off his established passion for curling, Murdoch helped start ice programs at Iowa State – he is one of the primary reasons Cyclone Hockey and intramural hockey exist today. Murdoch, Linda Marticke, and Garry Greenlee made Intramural hockey, broomball, and curling some of the most popular sports Iowa State had ever seen.
Implementing and incorporating these sports did not come without challenges. Hilton Coliseum was constructed between 1969 and 1970, but the University needed donations to make ice sports feasible there. Iowa State knew of a Chicago-based donor that was passionate about ice sports. Murdoch met with them and the two instantly bonded over their love of hockey, broomball, and curling. They discussed Canadian Intramurals and how much the local communities benefited from them. Murdoch left the Chicago meeting with $100,000 from the donor that later provided the opportunity for ice programs in Hilton Coliseum.
Murdoch expanded his reach across campus and went on to become an assistant professor at Iowa State. He researched ice programs and worked to make sure the ice arena ran smoothly. Murdoch and his team used something called “real ice”. Real ice goes through a tube and takes the air out of the water – it freezes quicker and is much harder than any other type of ice used. The utilization of real ice versus traditional ice saved the university energy and time.
THE BIRTH OF A LEAGUE
Without Murdoch, Marticke, and his graduate assistant’s research and efforts there would be no Intramural Hockey.
Additionally, Murdoch has also been part of the Hockey Equipment Certification Council for about 15 years. This included the evaluation of the safety of hockey equipment used by Iowa State Sport Club and Intramural Hockey teams.
Apart from sports, Murdoch evaluates the equipment for firefighters, lacrosse, and even horseback riding. A large part of the focus for the association is concussions and headgear.
Murdoch also helped start one of the most profound associations in college sports, the American Collegiate Hockey Association or (ACHA). Murdoch was ACHA’s first president
and laid most of the groundwork for the program’s foundation.
There is even a trophy named after Murdoch for his contributions. The ‘Murdoch Cup’ is awarded every year to the Men’s ACHA Division I National Champion. Iowa State hoisted the inaugural ACHA Division I Championship cup for the 1991-1992 season.
Murdoch says they used as much ice time as they possibly could as the Iowa State hockey team played the Air Force Academy in Hilton Coliseum’s opening weekend.
The Academy’s coach wrote down on the blackboard, “Beat Iowa State by 20 goals.” Murdoch saw this and used it to motivate his team. Although the game ended in a 4-5 loss for Iowa State, the team played their hearts out and lost by only one goal.
At the beginning of Murdoch’s tenure at Iowa State there were only around 15 Intramural sports available. According to Murdoch, it seemed like every year the program would add more sports.
Murdoch would also lead special events, including trips to art galleries, museums, major league baseball games and much more.
Murdoch and his staff would run advertisements in newspapers, which gave the opportunity for the faculty and staff to enjoy activities together that weren’t centered around academics.
Murdoch feels Intramurals are important because “It gives the opportunity for students to take a break from their academics and have the opportunity to join events that aren’t a part of their schoolwork.” He says it provides a way for people to see each other from a different perspective. Students from different majors can intermingle in a way they wouldn’t normally have the chance to.
He is a big proponent of coed teams and meeting new people through sports. Reflecting on working with a fellow ISU Intramurals colleague, Murdoch said “Linda Marticke is one of the best staff members to have when it comes to encouraging people to participate and trying things that they would never do.”
100th ANNIVERSARY OF INTRAMURALS
Murdoch continues in his role as an Assistant Professor in the Iowa State Department of Kinesiology. He has been at Iowa State for over 50 years – half of Iowa State Intramurals’ life.
Murdoch said around 40 years ago the university had over 500 co-ed teams among all sports. Iowa State was once featured in Sports Illustrated for having the most broomball teams. Iowa State’s Intramural ice sports are no longer played at Hilton – they instead partner with the City of Ames Ice Arena. Murdoch suggests another ice rink would help handle the youth program and ISU Intramural ice sports.
He believes Iowa State is doing all the right things with Intramurals now such as new fields, scoreboards, and the Outdoor Recreation Program.
Some of the sports Murdoch would like to see commemorated with the 100-year anniversary of Iowa State Intramurals are, you guessed it: hockey, broomball, and curling.