South Charlotte

Charger's swing takes him to UK

Most high school seniors use their last few months before college to relax without the pressures of school or sports.

Harry Murrell hasn't sat down since February.

It has been a whirlwind semester for Murrell, who graduated from Providence Day School on June 3. This spring he helped the Chargers win their first NCISAA golf title in 10 years, earned all-state golf honors and received several college acceptance letters.

Murrell's college experience will be a little different than most of his graduating class. He'll be getting on a plane to England in September to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Murrell said he wanted something different than the normal four-year institutions, so his mother, Gillian Murrell, got on Google and started looking. A quick search turned up LIPA's website.

"I just started looking at that, and I showed it to Harry and he said, 'This looks amazing,'" said Gillian.

Murrell and 1,200 other applicants applied for a one-year Foundation Certificate program in popular music and sound technology. Part of the application required making a CD with recordings of three original songs.

"It gave Harry a real focus," said Gillian. "It became a goal. ... 'I'm going to put this music together and I'm going to do this and give it a shot.'"

LIPA narrowed the pool of applicants to 400 and invited Murrell back for an audition. He flew to England in February and performed three of his songs for the selection committee.

Two weeks later, Murrell received a letter informing him he had been one of only 50 students to be accepted into the program.

Sporting a British-flag T-shirt, Murrell eagerly explained his excitement about the opportunity to move to England. Music has always been his first love, he said.

"I've always loved to sing," he said. "When I was 15, I decided I wanted to learn the piano. ... I taught myself all the chords on the piano, and from there I just started writing."

Murrell said music became a way to escape from the everyday pressures of high school.

"Providence Day is really academically strenuous," said Murrell. "I kind of had to find something to keep the balance.

"When you're doing sports and going to school every day and you have a ton of homework, when you go home you have to do something to give your mind a break."

If music is his first love, golf has been a close second. Murrell received a plastic golf club and golf balls from his father, Tom Murrell, when he was 3.

Murrell said he's loved the game since.

"I used to go out on our gravel driveway and literally just hit that plastic golf ball hundreds of times," he said. "(My dad) said I would be out there all morning. ... I was just obsessed with it."

Murrell played golf all four years of high school and was named a captain as a senior. Providence Day golf coach Dean Preston said Murrell likes to fire the team up but has a more laid back approach for himself.

"I think that helps him," said Preston. "If he has a bad shot here or there, it doesn't really affect him."

Murrell said he'll continue to play golf through the summer before going to England. His dad has also been looking at places he could play overseas.

Joining a team in college could still be a possibility after the year has ended.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do after this," said Murrell. "That's the whole point of doing one year. I just want to keep my options open."

Gillian said she and her husband will miss their son but think its an opportunity he can't pass up.

"We are over the moon for him," said Gillian. "We are so excited that he is going to have an opportunity to do what he loves and be surrounded by everybody else who loves it, too.

"Sometimes you go to a school and people are there because they have to be; but he will be surrounded by people who feel like they've just won the lottery."