While attending a Stony Brook sporting event, fans may recognize a familiar voice behind the venue’s microphone. That is the voice of Chris Murray, the school’s Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing, urging the crowd to get on their feet and make some noise for the Seawolves.
“I want it be a show,” Murray said. “I want it to be an experience. I want to raise the bar so we have the best home-court or home-field advantage in the country.”
Murray is in his fifth year as the Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing, but his journey started years before he became a faculty member and a vital part of the Seawolves community.
As a high school senior attending Floral Park Memorial High School, Murray made the decision to attend Stony Brook as a biology major in 2006 because of the school’s academics, location and affordability.
Murray became one of the first to elevate Wolfie to a more well-known status around campus and throughout the community, attending local fairs and festivals as well as shooting commercials. As an intern in the Department of Athletics, he was offered the job of being Stony Brook’s mascot. This is where Murray said his career in Stony Brook Athletics officially started.
“My sophomore year, my roommate was a business major and was a marketing intern for the Athletic Department,” Murray recalled. “He said, ‘come to Athletics tomorrow, and we’ll get you a job working for Athletics’ and I thought it would be great. He didn’t tell me that I was going to be Wolfie the mascot.”
Andrea Lebedinski, Stony Brook Athletics’ coordinator of annual giving and branding, remembered Murray’s enthusiasm from his days as a student.
“He would always be the Wolfie that was out and about,” Lebedinski said, recalling his dedication in spending three full days in the suit in searing Florida heat when filming an ESPN Gameday commercial for just a split-second clip of Wolfie. “[Murray] goes above and beyond, and if I need help with anything, he’s there.”
Murray graduated in May of 2010 and pursued a master’s degree in teaching. He spent one year as a graduate assistant in the Department of Athletics and ultimately found himself working there full time in October of 2011. His time in the Wolfie suit helped him appreciate and become satisfied with his occupation as both the home game announcer and an assistant athletic director at Stony Brook.
“It was awesome. I thought, probably the best job on campus was to be Wolfie,” Murray said. “I got to go to all the games, and the more I got involved, the more I fell in love with the Athletic Department here.”
Since then, Wolfie has grown to be one of the more important aspects of the Stony Brook community. Murray feels that Stony Brook Athletics is on the rise but is still a young program compared with many other Division I schools.
Another aspect of Murray’s job is working with members of the Athletics community to help spread the Stony Brook brand.
“Our student athletes and our spirit squads make me better,” Murray said. “I owe it to them to be better.”
When Murray is behind the microphone, co-worker Ashley Yencho, the assistant director of athletics marketing, is almost always beside him, wearing a headset and directing the entertainment and announcements that take place during media timeouts.
“He just does everything with his whole heart and a lot of energy. It’s fun to be around,” she said about her experience working with Murray. “We feed off of each other, and I think we really come up with some good ideas when we work together.”
Not only is Murray the passionate hype-man for each of the home games, but he also still reminisces and appreciates the opportunities he took advantage of as an undergraduate student to meet other members of the Stony Brook community and ultimately create a passionate network of coworkers and friends.
“It is so important to network. A 4.0 is very important, but a strong resume is just as important,” Murray said while discussing some advice for undergraduate students. “A lot of learning, I feel, happens outside the classroom here at Stony Brook. Get started and try something.”