Suna Murray remembers when her passion for skating meant showing up at her New Jersey rink at 4:30 a.m. and not leaving until hours later to go to school. That pre-dawn discipline paid off: she twice won a bronze medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and competed at the 1972 Winter Olympics.
Today Murray still puts in long hours, but now at The Skating Club of Boston, where she has coached for some 40 years. “You have to love it,” she says, “and I do.”
Murray first started teaching at The Club when fellow member and legendary Olympian Tenley Albright asked Murray to coach her daughters. She went on to graduate from Harvard in 1977 and launch her professional career in finance at the First National Bank of Boston.
But it wasn’t long before an 18-year-old skater named Nathan Birch, now an acclaimed skating choreographer, asked her if she’d coach him. Eager to get back on the ice, she said yes. “I was teaching him from 6 to 8 in the morning and then running off to work,” recalls Murray. “After about a year of that I realized teaching was more fun than banking!”
Leaving banking for full-time coaching is a decision she has never regretted. “You’re your own boss,” she says, and at the same time, she has enjoyed watching her students achieve their dreams. One of them was Stephen Carriere, a Grand Prix medalist and Junior World Champion, whom Murray coached through several international competitions.
She also thrives on working with a wide range of young skaters who come through The Club. “Every child is unique,” she says, “and they’re all fun to work with.”
Still, there’s one time-tested way to improve, as she herself knows well: practice, practice, practice. “You can’t learn if you don’t fall,” she says. “We’re fortunate to have ice all day at The Club, but kids still have to bring their drive to make the most of it.”
From her coaching perspective, she anticipates that the Norwood facility will bring new opportunities. The larger rinks will mean less crowded sessions and more room to practice difficult moves like multiple triple jumps. The nicer facility will mean a much better experience for club parents too.
The facility also has enormous potential to attract learners from new communities in southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She’s particularly looking forward to more group lessons for those just starting out in their skating careers.
“Coaches are always looking for that spark,” she says. “I’m sure that with the new facility, there will be children I’ll meet who will remind me why I love to teach.”