Coach Muffet McGraw and her husband share their love story
Notre Dame women's basketball Head Coach Muffet McGraw is known as a titan on the basketball court, but what about off the court? She and her husband explained how their love story began with one seemingly small decision.
"I got up in the morning and was going to drive back to where I was from for the summer, I turned the car on, turned the car off and I said 'Nah, I'm not going to go back,'" Matt McGraw said.
Matt was a senior at West Chester University when he decided to stay for the summer. That decision changed his life.
West Chester was the hometown of Muffet O'Brien, a basketball player at St Joseph's University who was back home working at the courthouse for the summer.
"I had a job, I could work in the courthouse as an internship for the summer. I met with a guy named Bob Kyle, he walked me around to each office and in each office he said 'You need to know these people, these people.' We got to her office and he said, 'There's nobody you need to meet here.' And I said, 'Ah, there is,'" Matt said.
"I was a criminal justice major at St Joe's. I was working for the summer at Juvenile Probation of Chester County at the courthouse. And one day, they brought this guy in who was going to intern in the department. I remember the first look at him, I remember what he was wearing. I just remember thinking 'That's somebody I would definitely like to meet,'" Muffet said.
Just like that - a spark.
"It was like we were soul mates. It was an instant connection. We would have lunch every day. He played baseball at the time, so I would go watch his games and he'd come and watch my summer league games. He wasn't a basketball player at the time but he was an athlete, so he understood that and you know, he just made me laugh. He could make me laugh no matter what and I just loved that about him. So it was just an instant attraction," Muffet said.
What was the attraction?
"She's a great person, she's funny and she just has that look about her. I see her and I smile," Matt said.
How did he propose?
"We were actually in a Woolworth's Department Store, if you remember those, the 5-and-10. And, they actually had a photo booth in there. And I said, 'Let's get a picture of the two of us in the photo booth.' So we got in and I put in a quarter and as it started flashing I said 'Will you marry me?'" Matt said.
"Well, we met in June, got engaged in December and we both knew. I mean, I could have got engaged in July, I knew right away," Muffet said.
Their wedding day foreshadowed their life together.
"The wedding was interesting. She had a beautiful gown on," Matt said.
But there was a surprise.
"You know they take off the garter, that's a big deal. So when I pulled up my skirt to take off the garter, I had my sneakers on. And so I was like 'You know what this is going to be like for the next 50 years, so you better get used to it now,'" Muffet said.
"That shocked me. I was like 'Holy cow!' It was fun. She looked great in that," Matt said.
Their first dance was to "Feels Like the First Time" by Foreigner.
The perfect song for a perfect day.
"It rained. So everybody said 'that's going to be good luck.' And it was. Everything about the day was pretty amazing. Just walking down the aisle and just thinking 'This is a dream come true for me,'" Muffet said.
Then came the head coach job at Notre Dame.
"He's absolutely the reason that we're here. I was coaching at Lehigh. I loved it there. Everything was great. Life was good. I loved coaching and the Notre Dame job opened and he was like 'Are you going to apply?' I was like 'Ehh, I don't know? It's kind of far away." Every day he would be like 'Send your application in.' I'm surprised he didn't send it in for me. So, I sent it in, didn't tell him. So, when I got the call to come out I said 'Hey, you want to go on a trip with me, going to Notre Dame?' There was a school close to us and he goes 'Easton?' And I said, 'No, South Bend,'" Muffet said.
Like she has so many times throughout her basketball career, Muffet knew the importance of team work.
"It's tough. It's tough for women, it's tough for men, too. If you don't have a partner that's willing to do stuff at home, do the laundry and do dishes, make dinner and do some things like that, it's not going to work. So when you have that 50-50 partnership, actually ours is probably more 80-20 - I'm 20 during the season, and I try to do more outside of the season and that's key," Muffet said.
Two became three when Murphy James McGraw joined the team.
Murphy grew up on the basketball court
"Learning about how powerful women can be by watching my team. He's going to be a great husband because of it," Muffet said.
Murphy certainly has a great example at home.
"You know the old saying 'You count your blessing.' I count her like four times because she makes me smile," Matt said.
Muffet and Matt celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in October.