Police officer changing lives of KC youth as soccer coach

Ann Murphy is used to juggling more than just a soccer ball. The KC Courage WPSL soccer player works multiple jobs including being a Kansas City Police Officer.

But the role she cherishes most is coaching a club soccer team full of underprivileged teens. Murphy will head to California next month to pick up one of just 50 Double Goal Coaching awards nationwide from the Positive Coaching Alliance. Her two goals are helping kids succeed on and off the pitch.

“She came to our school as a cop to tell us about drugs and alcohol,” Jaguars Forward and Midfielder Gio Puntos recalls.

“They told us she was a cop and we all were like scared of her, intimidated by how she was,” junior Tomas Muniz said.

After meeting with the students at Frontier Middle School in 2011, Murphy realized there were students from various cultures in Northeast Kansas City interested in soccer. But with no real organized way to play, most ended up on the streets. She lectured the kids to avoid gangs, but realized there was a way to help them do it. She and a teacher at the school formed the Rise Jaguars.

“We have kids from Iraq, Northern Africa, Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan Pakistan, Mexico, Guatemala, so I’m learning how to say hurry up pretty much in every language,” Coach Murphy joked.

The challenges are immense.There’s a lack of time and money. Along with the midnight shift on the police department and her playing career, Murphy teaches and coaches for KC Courage High School Alternative Soccer Team and Sporting Lee Summit. She says she wants to make sure her Rise Jaguars team doesn’t have to pay to travel to college showcases or tournaments. She estimates she spends at least $10,000 per year.

"I just work 4-5 jobs a year and make it happen because I don’t want to let them down.”

Then there’s being there for players at all hours of the day.

"Seeing that a kid doesn’t have a front door because their parents just bought an abandoned house and they have to walk to QT every night to go the bathroom because they don’t have plumbing. As a paid coach you don’t have to deal with those kind of things.”

“She’s involved in our life more than a coach more like a parent she’s just there for us,” sophomore Tito Favela said.

For every instruction Murphy gives players about using their feet, she gives another about using their heads.

“She thinks about her players before she thinks about herself. She convinced everyone to apply for college. It’s not just about the sport; it’s about your future,” recent Jaguars addition Adrian Dar said.

Now most every player on the original team of 6th graders she formed in 2011 is about to graduate. Thanks to those college showcases the team travels to, many are looking at scholarships. A few of the players on the team don't plan on becoming professional soccer players. Instead they’d like to be cops like their coach.

Murphy already has a second team of young players ready to fill their shoes.

“Now it’s a lot more money but it’s worth it in the long run.”

Murphy will receive a $200 prize for the Positive Coaching Alliance award.