Ambassador Spotlight: Tim Murray
Name: Tim Murray
Location: Northern Kentucky
How long have you been an ambassador? Since April 2021
Favorite Athletic beer: Run Wild
Tim is more than ready to return to the competitive stage.
He’s been strength training years and participating in tough CrossFit workouts with intent and purpose, throwing weights around like it’s nothing. And he’s ready to win.
He’s no stranger to the podium -- he does hold two world records after all -- but most of the people he is up against have an unfair size advantage. That is, until the CrossFit Games announced it’s adding an Adaptive Division for the first time ever. His first CrossFit Games will be in 2022, and he’s going all in.
“Honestly, I want to win. That’s the No. 1 goal, the big goal. They’ve opened up an adaptive division, so I’ll be competing in that one, which will be nice because I’m not having to do 3-and-a-half times my bodyweight just to get anything.
“I was born with achondroplasia. It’s a form of dwarfism, the most common type. The biggest issue we have is that my arms and legs are shorter, but I have an average-sized torso, so the proportions are off quite a bit.”
Tim has an incredible ability to chase down his goals and to help others achieve theirs, as well. He’s an athletic trainer for the Cincinnati Cyclones, a professional Division AA hockey team, and he’s also worked as an athletic trainer for a minor league baseball team, which he described as his dream job. He has two world records, one in shot put and another in the bench press.
It’s that ability to see the path through to success that he brings to the table when training his athletes for competition. He’s a strong role model for not only the athletes, but for his young family members too.
We can’t wait to watch Tim compete, but until then, read on to learn more about him and his incredible journey to professional and athletic success.
Tell me a little bit about your background in sports/activities, what are some of your favorite ways to stay active?
I’m an athletic trainer. I work with the minor league hockey team for Cincinnati. We’re part of the ECHL, so Division AA, two steps below the NHL.
But as far as my athletic background, I play inline hockey and street, so inside and outside. I workout pretty much every day training for the CrossFit Open next year. They’ve opened up an adaptive division, so I’ll be competing in that one, which will be nice because I’m not having to do 3-and-a-half times my bodyweight just to get anything.
Growing up I played baseball, basketball, soccer -- the “typical American boy” sports. I didn’t play football. The way my spine is, the wear and tear of a football season would not bode well for me. I probably wouldn’t be in the shape that I’m in now.
When I’m not doing that stuff, I’m walking my dog, taking him to the dog park. I play hockey with him in the backyard. He loves it, and he loves going to the rink with me. He’s a German shepherd and lab mix. When the weather’s nice, I walk him at night. He can go for miles on end, he has that much energy, which is awesome.
I saw your recent post about becoming an athletic trainer in hockey, which is incredible in and of itself, so congratulations, but you also mentioned that you believe you are the first and only dwarf professional athletic hockey trainer. Tell me about that journey.
I was born with achondroplasia. It’s a form of dwarfism, the most common type. There are over 200 types, and the one I have is the most common. The biggest issue we have is that my arms and legs are shorter, but I have an average-sized torso, so the proportions are off quite a bit.
I’ve been super lucky with my medical history. Some people get spinal stenosis really bad, anywhere along their back. I had a case pop up for me a couple of years ago, which is why I had to go on a huge fitness journey. I actually had to take it seriously and lose a bunch of weight, because the weight was what was causing a lot of my issues. I ended up losing about 30 pounds.
Working in professional sports with achondroplasia, I’m working with athletes who are over 2 feet taller than me in some cases. Yeah, it looks goofy, but it just means I have to work harder and earn their trust, which helps quite a bit. A lot of what athletic training is is being a good people person. You have to be able to talk to athletes, you have to be able to talk to their parents or family members. You have to be able to communicate. You have to let people know you have [the athlete’s] best interest at heart.
Obviously there’s some skill level involved with it. But a lot of the time they just want an answer or a plan. That’s how I build relationships, and that’s where it’s taken me to, here, with the Cyclones.
When I first got out of grad school in 2011, I got a job at a small high school in the middle of central Kentucky. I was there for 5 years, and then I finally got the call to come back home to another high school. It was a little bigger, and I was going to be an assistant, which was fine with me because I wanted to come home. And that opened up when the minor league baseball team in town needed an athletic trainer. So I worked minor league baseball for 2 years, which was my dream job.
Then my brother and his wife had my first nephew, and I realized how much time over the summer I would be missing if I continued on the way with baseball. After the first season, I got to go on a couple trips with the Cyclones. Their athletic trainer was sick, so since my team was not playing, I got to go. I worked 11 games that year, and then the position opened up after that, and I threw my name in the hat. They offered it to me, and I’ve been with them ever since.
This is my second season technically. The first got cut short by COVID, and the mandates on indoor capacities made it not feasible for us to host a team, which I understand, but I’m still angry at COVID.
That’s amazing. You’re literally working your dream job. Not a lot of people get to that point, so that’s incredible. Congratulations.
I wanted to be that guy out of school, I wanted to go straight to the pros. And I realized --- because I had an interview in Georgetown, KY, and I was gonna have to work more for less pay -- and I was like, this is not fun. I have just about everything I can ask for right now. Waiting was the perfect choice to do, because here I am working in professional hockey.
Did at any time you feel like you weren’t going to make it to where you wanted to go, or did you just always have that faith that you were going to get there someday?
I think I always had that faith that I was gonna do it. I don’t know, not so much getting to the professional level because the opportunities are few and far between. But I think more that just having that faith to get back home to where I could get off work after a Friday night basketball game and meet my friends out for dinner or something like that. Where I was living, I was an hour and a half away, and we’d sometimes have to drive 5 hours to get to where we were going to play.
I want to dive into your CrossFit, too, because you post a lot of workout videos, which are really cool. Tell me about why it’s appealing to you, and I know you said they have the adaptive category now, so you get to compete. I bet you’re super psyched for that!
I’ve always been a competitor growing up. Whether I was playing baseball, I always wanted to be the best, I wanted to win. I guess I didn’t think about it or know it at the time, but looking back, I’m always determined to show people that I can do whatever they can do, and do it better. With CrossFit, I have a friend who’s also a little person. He’s been training CrossFit for a couple years now. I’ve been following his videos, but I just wasn’t quite there.
So with the weight lifting background -- I threw shotput and discus in college. I was about 7 inches from going to London for the Paralympics. That kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth. I had gotten to a point with that part of my athletic career that I plateaued, mainly because I was out of school, in the real world, having to work, that took a lot of my time away from the training I needed. And the coaching. I didn’t have a coach other than someone who might watch a video for ideas.
I actually hold 2 world records. Every 4 years, usually the year after the Olympics, usually, they host the World Dwarf Games. We’re in Belfast, Ireland, and I did powerlifting. I was like, “I’m going to do this, I think I’m strong, so why not.” On the bench press, they didn’t think I knew what I was doing. They were like, “Are you sure you want to start with this [weight]?” I wrap it up, and they’re like, “OK, this guy knows what he’s talking about.” At my last lift, they were like, “Hey, this is what the world record is, do you want to go 5 kilos over?” So for my last lift, I ended up breaking the world record in the 160 pound category with a 283 pound lift. And I also had the shot put record, I set it there. It’s something I don’t tell a whole lot of people. But my friends talk about it more than I do.
CrossFit just kind of built off of that. I was getting bored with the workouts I was doing, I wanted to change it up. And I saw they opened up a branch at the adaptive division for little people, and I was like, “Well, I think I found out what I’m gonna do.”
Wow! That’s incredible. It’s very obvious that you have great discipline and the mindset to become a champion. That’s not something a lot of people can say either.
I haven’t gone to the gym, but we have a workout area at the [hockey] arena, so I’ve just been working out there. I have everything I need, so there’s no point in driving to the gym then driving home after I’ve been here all day.
What hopes do you have for the competition? Are you training for any specific outcome?
Honestly, I want to win. That’s the No. 1 goal, the big goal. A smaller goal is that I don’t want to go in there and make a fool of myself. The biggest issue I’m having so far is double-unders with the jump rope. It’s learning technique, once I get that down, I know I’ll be fine. There’s always some kind of a cheat code to making something easier, more efficient, and that’s the biggest thing, is just figuring out the double-unders. But I don’t want to go in and make a fool of myself. I’d come back hungry, but I still don’t want to do it.
Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about Athletic Brewing. How did you find Athletic?
I think it was one of those random ads on Instagram. I was searching for non-alcoholic beers that were different … I wanted something that tasted good. I saw Athletic Brewing in the store, and I’ve fallen in love ever since.
Why did you apply to become an ambassador?
Once I started following the social pages, I started seeing the ambassador program pop up. I was like, I want to get involved. This is something I want to see. Not only for me, but I have friends that have gotten turned on to Athletic Brewing that are also sober. It’s just something nice, change of pace, drink at the pool, or go out with your friends. Everyone else is drinking, and then the one person who doesn’t know you very well is always asking. If I have something in my hand other than water, they’re not gonna ask the question. The bar I go to is the only hockey bar in town. My friends with the street hockey league, the guy who runs the street hockey league is the GM of the bar, and he started getting Athletic Brewing set up at his bar. I was like, this is awesome, now I know I can drink something here.
So what are some of your proudest achievements (athletic or not)? I know you talked about your world records, and your job, do you have any other proudest moments from over the years?
My favorite Christmas present that year, 2018 -- my nephew was born, my first nephew, and my brother asked if I wanted to be his godfather. He’s a really happy boy, very smart and intelligent, and it’s just fun being around him. My friends have had kids and everything, but this one just hits a little different, and I just never thought I could love a kid as much as I love my nephews.
That’s kind of where my sober journey started too. Knowing they were around, I wanted to be available for them. See them, hang out, when they get older, be proud that I’m their uncle.
What is a bucket list event or race that you’d love to compete in?
Just the CrossFit, not necessarily the Open, but the main CrossFit Games. That’s really what I want to get to. National TV. That’s the big one right now.
How has the ambassador program helped you in your professional, personal or athletic endeavors?
It’s opened me up to new brews. I like trying different things. I used to be just a plain Jane and would always drink the same thing, what I’m comfortable with. It’s nice meeting other people who are in the same mindset that I am -- want to be better, live healthier, knowing that I’m not alone.
What’s your favorite recovery food?
They just opened up a meal prep place here in town called Clean Eats. Every Sunday, I go pick up whatever the meals are for that week. But when I’m not doing that, it’s usually ice cream. Ice cream is now my new vice. I’ll only go to a place that has something for the puppy. I’ll be out walking him or at the dog park, especially if he does really good. We stop and get ice cream.
What do you like to do on your rest days?
I usually take the pup for a walk, that’s our big thing. What’s nice is downtown Cincinnati, I can park at our arena and walk along the river toward the Bengals stadium or the opposite direction. I’ll walk him through downtown occasionally on big adventures, that’s what I call them. The adventures of Cap ‘n Tim. Some people, they miss him when I don’t have him. It’s just something I enjoy doing with him. Gets us both out of the house and wears him out.
What’s a little-known fact about you that you’d like to share?
My great-grandpa was a jockey. He raced in the Kentucky Derby in 1920. So athletics run in my family. My dad played baseball in college and professionally. My brother played in college, two of my cousins played in college and professionally.
What gets you up and out of bed every day?
The desire to get better. To improve on the day before. I love what I do. I love my job. I want to be the best. It’s not just for me, but for my athletes. I want my athletes to know that they have the best care going for them. And obviously my puppy here, he gets me up and out of bed, not just literally but figuratively as well. I want to make sure he can live his best life as well.
What does living without compromise mean to you?
Being able to walk my dog, go to work without being in a fog, hungover… just going through life the way it’s supposed to be, how you’re supposed to go through it. Just staying clean, sober. Helping one person after another.
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