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CHIP OFF BLOCK; DAUGHTER TEAMS WITH DAD TO COACH KIDS IN HITTING.

Byline: Angela M. Lemire Staff Writer

While most families bond around the dinner table, Bud Murray and his kids made their connection on the baseball diamond.

And today, those family ties appear as strong as a Louisville Slugger, with Murray, the former Hart High CIF championship baseball coach, and daughter Kodee teaming up in business to offer hitting classes for area youngsters.

The partners officially launched their new business venture last week, with their first clients, two young female athletes. By that time, they also had lined up other small groups for lessons in the coming week.

The hitting lessons seemed a perfect fit for the father-daughter duo, who share a passion for softball and baseball and, coincidentally, each took a recent hiatus from coaching.

``It's definitely something that's been a family thing,'' said Kodee, 39, noting that an older brother also coaches high school baseball in the Northern California city of Rockland.

``Some families meet around the dinner table, and that's how they have that connection. . . . For us, this has always been a part of our lives.''

Bud said, ``We've always had somebody in the family coaching or playing the game, and we've always turned out to watch them.''

Bud Murray fell in love with baseball as a youngster, and his talent landed him a four-year stint on the Brooklyn Dodgers, fresh out of high school in 1955.

After being hired as a history teacher at Hart High in 1967, his knowledge of the game led to a successful 32-year college and high school coaching career, which ended last spring with his retirement from teaching.

Kodee, now a physical and special education teacher at Bowman High School, learned the game while watching her father coach the boys' high school teams. Her mother used to bring her and her brothers to watch games and practices, she recalled.

``Kodee's always been a good observer,'' recalled Bud, 63. ``She could walk away from any game - good or bad - and walk away learning something new. I think that's what has made her such a good coach.''

More than 20 years ago, Kodee's Hart High School softball team won the CIF championship. She was named an All-American softball player, among other local, state and national honors.

Like her father, she later coached at the high school and college levels, and in 1998 landed a coaching spot for the Tampa Bay Fire Stix, one of the country's six professional women's softball teams.

That experience unexpectedly gave the Murrays their first crack at coaching together.

Initially, Kodee was appointed as an assistant coach. She was promoted shortly thereafter when the head coaching position became vacant.

In a pinch to fill the assistant coaching position, she offered it to her dad.

Together, the two rallied the Tampa Bay Stix from dead last to finish the season in third place.

``That was really a good experience,'' Bud said. ``I'd coach first base, and she'd coach third. I had immense pride looking across the field and seeing my daughter. There's six professional women's softball teams in the country, and she was head coach for one of them.''

And both Bud and Kodee found that they enjoyed coaching together - so much so that when Kodee returned to California to continue teaching high school, they decided to team up again to offer hitting lessons.

Although their coaching styles differed, each found they learned from the other.

Kodee said she learned to better simplify her coaching instructions and emphasize fundamentals to players - one of her father's greatest coaching skills.

Bud learned he had a softer coaching side.

``When I used to coach the boys, I used to hop on every mistake with them, and sometimes I raised a little hell,'' he recalled. ``But Kodee showed me another approach, to focus on morale boosting. She was firm with them, but never lambasted them or busted into them.''

He paused before adding, ``I try to emphasize the positive now, rather than getting down on the players.''

But maybe the greatest lesson of all for Kodee was seeing her father change his coaching technique.

``He's taught me that when you stop learning or opening yourself up to new ideas, then you're done as a coach,'' she said.

The Murrays are offering private and group hitting lessons for kids ages 6 and up. For information, call 259-3320.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 11, 1999
Words:727
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