How a gap year brought Iowa field hockey’s Murphy to Iowa

The Hawkeyes’ top goalscorer took a trip around the world and found her home in Iowa City.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Maddy Murphy attempts to shoot at the empty goal during the fourth quarter of a field hockey game against Maryland on Sunday, April 4, 2021 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 3-0. With 12 minutes left of the game, Maryland decided to pull their goalkeeper to replace the position with another player on offense, but switched back to having a goalkeeper after 10 minutes of game play.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

After playing field hockey for much of her life, Iowa senior forward Maddy Murphy wanted to test the waters throughout Europe and the U.S.

A gap year not only allowed her the opportunity to explore the world but explore some potential next steps in her field hockey career.

Unlike the U.S., the gap year is extremely popular for teenagers after finishing up high school in Tasmania.

“I didn’t want to really jump into anything too quickly, so I travelled a little bit and worked,” Murphy said. “If I had jumped in, I would not have had this opportunity and things would have been so different.”

Along with visiting Europe and the U.S., Murphy got to focus on field hockey without the distraction of school by playing in the country’s field hockey league.

Her trip to the U.S. was a special one to her. She flew out to Iowa City before trekking across the United States and visiting many colleges within a two week span. Having her father there was incredible, as they embraced the U.S. culture and even got to visit family in Minnesota.

Thanks to a friend she made back home during her gap year, Murphy got connected to Iowa specifically. After going through the process of going to European camps and visiting colleges in the U.S., Murphy decided on Iowa.

“I was hopping across the U.S. looking at schools, and I really fell in love with Iowa,” Murphy said. “No other schools compared, I loved the schools, I loved the team and it felt like home.”

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After getting home from her trip to Iowa City, Murphy soon discovered that Hobart, the capital city of her homeland in Tasmania, is modeled after Iowa City. Not only was it an interesting connection for Murphy, but it made Iowa City feel even more like home. Hobart also has a river going through the city and even a university in the heart of it, just like Iowa City.

Just a few months later after the trip, Murphy became a student-athlete for the Hawkeyes and made her way to Iowa City to start her college career.

Since becoming a part of the Iowa field hockey team, Murphy has set herself apart as an incredible player and great teammate.

“She always has so much energy, and she brings so much to the team,” senior midfielder Nikki Freeman said. “She’s so positive, and in practice she’s scoring all the goals just like she does in games.”

Murphy got off to a strong start as a freshman and was second best on the team with 11 goals and three assists.

Over the course of her four years at Iowa, Murphy has amassed 43 goals and 23 assists. During her sophomore and junior campaigns, she was recognized as a first team All-Big Ten selection and a second team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

After her season at Iowa, Murphy is looking to continue her field hockey career and believes she has plenty left in the tank.

“I have no reason to retire and love it so much,” Murphy said. “Playing here I have made so many connections worldwide, so it is cool I could play club league anywhere.”

First though, Murphy and the Hawkeyes have some business to handle in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will face the winner of the Northwestern-Delaware game in the second round for a spot in the final four.