Jim Sweeney, Laura Murray Inducted Into Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame
Oct. 4, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - James Sweeney and Laura Murray, head coach and letterwinner on the Ohio State pistol team, respectively, were officially inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame last Friday. Sweeney and Murray, along with 12 other inductees, were honored during a dinner at the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom in the Ohio Union.
James Sweeney has served as head coach of the Ohio State pistol team for more than 15 years, coaching the squad to five NRA Collegiate National Championship titles and coaching seven student-athletes to 23 NRA Collegiate Individual Championships. Throughout his time with the pistol team, Sweeney has coached one Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year (Teresa Meyer), two Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor recipients (Laura Murray and Jessica Marshall), 33 All-Americans and 39 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
Sweeney led the pistol team to its first NRA Collegiate National Championship in his first year as head coach, also guiding his student-athletes to national titles in free pistol, standard pistol, sport pistol and women's air pistol that same year. Under Sweeney's guidance, the women's pistol team has captured four NRA National Championships (2000, 2004, 2005 and 2009). In 2003 and 2011, Sweeney was named the NRA Distinguished Coach of the Year.
Sweeney's Ohio State coaching contributions date back to 1960-62, when he served as an assistant coach with the men's gymnastics program. He left Ohio State to serve as the head coach for men's gymnastics at Washington State (1962-66) before returning to Columbus as the head coach for the men's gymnastics program (1966-77) and as the head coach and advisor for the spirit program (1968-69). He was honored as the NCAA Mid-East Men's Gymnastics Coach of the Year in 1968.
Sweeney has been actively involved in the shooting community for over 30 years, both as an active competitor and as the Director of the State of Ohio International Pistol Championships as well as of leagues in air gun, action pistol and bullseye. His contributions to society do not end in the shooting community, as he served as a foster parent for 16 years, working with children of various ages until they were adopted or could return to their homes.
Sweeney graduated from Ohio State in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, continuing his studies at his alma mater and earning his master's degree in physical education (curriculum design) in 1960. In 1965, Sweeney graduated from Ohio State with a doctorate degree in physical education (educational psychology).
While studying at Ohio State, Sweeney also competed on the freshman football team (1952-53) under head coach Woody Hayes before joining the men's gymnastics team (1953-56) after rehabilitating from a football injury. He was a finalist on still rings at the 1956 NCAA Championships.
Over the years since his graduation from Ohio State, Sweeney has written seven publications (1960-76), served as an assistant professor at Washington State (1962-66), and served as an instructor (1960-62), associate professor (1979-94), assistant professor (1966-79) and associate professor emeritus (1994-Present) at Ohio State in addition to his responsibilities as head coach of the pistol team.
Laura Murray was a three-time All-American, two-time individual and national champion and Big Ten Medal of Honor winner for Ohio State pistol from 1997-2000. The pivot point of the emergence of Ohio State pistol, Murray made a commitment to shoot in every event (even those normally shot by males), leading Ohio State to its first open national championship and first women's national championship in 2000.
Murray had a breakout performance at the 1999 NRA National Championships, claiming first-place finishes with the Women's Sport Pistol and Open Standard Pistol teams as well as posting a first-place finish in Standard Pistol as an ROTC Individual. Additionally, she placed second as an individual in Women's Sport Pistol and third with the Women's Air Pistol team.
At the 2000 NRA National Championships, Murray led Ohio State to its first Open and Women's National Championships, also becoming the first Ohio State student-athlete to capture the Women's Air Pistol and Women's Sport Pistol Individual Championships. In addition, she placed first as a member of the Open Free Pistol, Open Standard Pistol, Women's Air Pistol and Women's Sports Pistol teams. For the second consecutive year, Murray placed first in Standard Pistol as an ROTC Individual and third as a member of the Women's Air Pistol team.
For her performances at the 2000 NRA National Championships, Murray earned First Team All-America honors in Standard Pistol and Women's Sport Pistol and Second Team All-America honors in Women's Air Pistol.
An Academic All-Big Ten, three-time Ohio State Scholar Athlete and Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor winner, Murray was also an exceptional student, receiving a nursing degree from Ohio State in 2000. A member of the Navy ROTC, Murray was a member of the Anchor and Chain Honor Society (1997-00) and a recipient of the Midshipman Star Award (1997-00). Upon graduation, Murray was employed as a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps Officer, serving as a Staff Nurse in the Medical Surgical Unit (2000-01), Women's and Children Unit (2001-02) and Postanesthesia Care Unit (2002-04) at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., before moving on to serve as a Staff Nurse in the Medical Surgical Unit (2008-10) at Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, N.C.