Meet Dan Murphy, a coach and educator leaving on a high note with a legacy of leadership

Profiles introduces you to people in our community who are making a difference but don’t often make the headlines. This month we invite you to meet the head coach of the league-leading PSHS Indians football team.
Palm Springs High School head football coach Dan Murphy was recently the grand marshal of the annual Homecoming Parade.

Any young person who has had an adult they could look up to or who perhaps imparted some words of wisdom that stuck with them their entire lives knows what it means to have people like Dan Murphy in the community. Murphy has been an educator, coach, and role model at Palm Springs High School for more than two decades, and it’s safe to say he has impacted the lives of hundreds of people, many of whom remain here and make an impact themselves.

Murphy was born and raised in Palm Springs, graduating from PSHS in 1983. He initially left to attend Boise State University on a football scholarship, then spent five years in Arkansas to be closer to his daughter. While there, he worked as everything from a truck driver to a pest control technician, eventually becoming a sheriff’s department corrections officer. 

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“I really wanted to have a career and not just a job,” he says, explaining that he purposely chose to return home because that’s where he felt the best opportunities were. After landing a role with the Riverside County Probation Department working in juvenile detention, he knew his future would include working with youth. He was three weeks away from entering the Sheriff’s Academy when he got a call asking if he’d be interested in helping coach the Palm Desert Wrestling team.

The rest, as they say, is history. The role in Palm Desert led to opportunities at his alma mater, where he has been ever since. He’s coached wrestling, golf, and softball, and for the past 14 years, has been part of the football program, including 11 as head coach.

As Murphy makes plans to retire, he’ll go out on a high note: The PSHS varsity football team currently sits atop the Desert Empire League with a 7-1 record. In 11 years as the team’s head coach, he has amassed an impressive 76-39 record. Murphy quickly credits his players for bringing a “no drama” attitude to practice every day, noting, “They cheer for each other and really encourage each other.”

Chances are they’re cheering for Coach Murphy as well. Get to know him better below.


The people who make Palm Springs
like no place else


NAME: Dan Murphy

AGE: 57

OCCUPATION: Educator and football coach at Palm Springs High School

NEIGHBORHOOD: Movie Colony East

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE DESERT? 47 years

WHAT KEEPS YOU HERE? Just being around the kids and the families. I love these kids. They keep me young.

DO YOU HAVE FAMILY HERE? My brother and son live here. My son is 30 and works for the school district.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR IN THE DESERT? I like Christmas time here. Everybody’s attitude is a bit different. People are more cheery, and it’s also cooler.

HOW DO YOU BEAT THE HEAT? I try to stay indoors or in the pool.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY BY WHICH YOU LIVE? Do the right thing, even when nobody’s watching.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT? The original Las Casuelas. Locals know that’s the place.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING OUR COMMUNITY? There’s a big problem with youth violence. As teachers, we try to get them involved with extracurricular activities, something positive to do. We don’t reach them all, but we do try.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO OR PLACE TO GO IN THE DESERT? I love to golf.

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT PALM SPRINGS THAT THEY MIGHT NOT ALREADY KNOW? It’s a great place to live. It has a small city attitude, and it’s very diverse. There’s something for everybody here.

WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? Swedish Fish.


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