Maureen (Mo-Jo) Murrett grew up in Buffalo, New York, the youngest of nine children in a family known for its love of games and competitive sports. She graduated from Nardin Academy where she earned varsity letters in volleyball, basketball, track, and softball. Murrett was inducted into the Nardin Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.
On the front end of Title IX, Murrett received an athletic scholarship to swim at Miami University. While there, she held five varsity records and was a three-time Mid-American Conference Champion. The team won three championships while she was there and she was honored to be team captain her senior year.
Upon graduation, she began coaching as a volunteer assistant at The Ohio State University and continued at Kenyon College. She moved to Ann Arbor to become head coach at Eastern Michigan University where she was twice chosen MAC Coach of the Year.
After an extended break from coaching, Coach Murrett was hired to coach girls’ swim & dive at Skyline High School when it opened in 2008. She became the head coach of the boys’ team in 2016. Since then, she has coached three state championship teams—24 individual state champions, six relay champions, and 58 All-America performances. Every team in her tenure has been named to the Academic All-State and Academic All-America Teams.
Murrett was chosen by her peers as the MISCA (Michigan Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association) Coach of the Year in 2012,2013, 2015, 2018, and 2022.
The Michigan High School Coaches Association named her Coach of the Year in 2013, 2018, and 2022.
Assistant Coach Paul Griffith calls her a wealth of experience. “Mojo’s super knowledge and has been here at Skyline since the beginning, so she sets the tone.”
Murrett’s father, Peter, was a lawyer until the day he died at age 98. Her mother Betty was a social worker who gave up her career when she became a mother. She taught and inspired her children to always work for the common good, Murrett says.
Murrett has been the assistant to Eve Claar at Pioneer Athletics since 2014. “I thank Eve every day for the opportunity and the positive, productive, challenging work environment she provides,” says Murrett.
Murrett says she is proud of her daughters for forging their own paths. Tierney (Abbot, Forsythe, Skyline ’13) is a producer/editor for ABC Good Morning America and Sylvie (Abbot, Forsythe, Skyline ’16) is the Youth Program Lead at Sellwood Community House in Portland, Oregon.
She enjoys working on her house, reading, golfing, and anything to do with water. She’s never met a dog she didn’t like.
How did you get into coaching swimming?
I started coaching at Ohio State right after college because with my Political Science degree I didn’t have a job doing anything else. A tragedy on the team threw me into the assistant coach position and I realized I could be pretty good at this.
Aren’t the early morning hours at the pool difficult some days?
Swim coaches put in very long hours. Some days the early mornings are difficult and more often they can be the best part of the day!
How do you feel about being named one of two Michigan High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year?
They choose one person from each sport so I was honored to be part of such a special group. The best part was that I was able to share the story of this amazing group of young men and all they went through on their way to a state title.
You received this award for coaching boys, but you also coach girls. How is this?
The boys and girls compete in different seasons. It takes a different approach and a different skill set for each. They both have their own set of rewards and I’m amazed every year by how much I learn from them about music, pop culture, and life.
You work in the athletic office at Pioneer. Do you ever have trouble deciding which team (apart from swim and dive) to root for?
I’m so thankful that the ADs from Pioneer and Skyline support my hectic schedule. Working at both schools expands my frame of reference and makes me better at both jobs. I generally cheer for the team that I feel more connected to regardless of the school. Most of the time I just cheer for whoever has the ball.
How hard is it for your kids to lose?
Nobody likes to lose. We try to find victories in things other than the time or the score.
What’s the best compliment anyone could give you?
That I made a difference in their life or the life of their child.
What are some of your proudest moments as a coach?
Winning the boys’ state title last year. We didn’t have the best swimmers but we had the best team. In 2014 when the girls got 2nd at the state meet by .06. I was so proud of their class and poise in dealing with that disappointment. They came back stronger and won the state title the following year.
I love when we have an athlete who starts out as a really weak swimmer and they work hard and persevere to earn a varsity letter or even make the state team in the course of his or her career.
My first year at Skyline when our medley relay earned All-State honors by placing 8th at the state meet. They were all freshmen and they were so happy. I was in tears.
Describe an average workday that includes Skyline and Pioneer.
I am really good at changing clothes as I drive across town!
6 to 7 a.m. Skyline Swim and Dive Dryland Practice (Mon, Tues, Thurs)
7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pioneer Athletics OP
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Skyline Swim Practice or Thurs 4:30-8 p.m. Swim & Dive Meet
If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would you go?
That’s an easy one …. Australia. I love the people and the easy way of life.
What do you love about Skyline?
I love that I have been able to build the program from the start. The parents in that community are wonderful and supportive. The kids are hardworking and smart. I am fortunate because my job is also my hobby. I love working with young people. Years later when they contact me, they often thank me for something I did that taught them about life or made a difference in their world. They never thank me for the state title and that’s exactly how it should be.
What is the most rewarding part of coaching?
Watching the personal growth of high schoolers.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a high school coach?
How much time we put in and that all we want is for your kids to excel.
How do you recharge?
Time with friends and time with my family who are also my friends.