The Youth R.I.S.E. soccer club is not only making a name for itself on the field, but is changing who gets to play the game. Through educational support, discipline and removing barriers her players face, Coach Ann Murphy, a Kansas City Police Department officer, is not only pushing them to seek higher education, but also their professional goals.
Murphy, “Murph” to her players, started Youth R.I.S.E. in 2011 with a team of 22 adolescent boys from Northeast Kansas City when she realized something had to be done to occupy their free time. The club is representative of Kansas City’s most diverse neighborhoods, from first generation immigrants and refugees to kids who never dreamed of making it out of Northeast. Now they aspire to make it to the pros, go to law school, or join the police department.
The club became a nonprofit in 2015, and over the years they’ve gained recognition regionally, even sending a few alumni to the pros. They now field two boys’ teams and one girls’ team, ranging in ages from eighth grade to age 24.
“Our graduates are always around and involved,” Murphy said. “We’ve got one in law school. I’ve got another one who wants to go to law school.”
Coach Bill Carroll’s daughter played for the Jaguars for about three years before taking the field at Rockhurst University. Though he lives in Blue Springs, he stayed involved after his daughter graduated the program, coaching goalkeepers for Murphy.
“It brings a lot of families that wouldn’t necessarily otherwise do that, and it also gives the kids a strong foundation to set goals to reach,” – said. “Other kids see that and they want to do that, as well, it spreads like wildfire. They’re getting the motivation and the push to do things on their own and reach successful goals, which futhers them.”
Despite having to cancel their annual fundraiser in 2020 because of COVID-19, Carroll said the club has grown, and now a majority of the girls’ team is from Northeast, too, versus the suburbs.
“I think that’s a product of hearing about the program just through word of mouth with the kids in the neighborhoods,” Carroll said.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, the club hosted an awards ceremony at Budd Park and registered players for the upcoming season. When coaches recognized that technology was a barrier for players to register online, volunteers popped open their camp chairs in the middle of the urban park and began registering players on laptops. Before long, teammates formed lines to get registered, catching up and strategizing for upcoming games.
Murphy said the process to register with the U.S. Soccer has gotten more complicated this year. Players also faced issues with payment and documentation, which their coaches worked with them to get resolved.
Coaches recognized outstanding alumni and honored volunteers, and recognized players on each team for improvement, leadership, academic achievement, giving 110%, defense, offense and most valuable player.
Most Improved – Elizabeth Martinez
Leadership – Kaileaha Alcantara
Academic Achievement – Lindsey Sheldon
110% – Abby Caudle
Defensive Player – Kaileaha Alcantara
Offensive Player – Ashley Sanchez
MVP – Melody Galacia
Most Improved – Innocent Ngane
Leadership – Francisco Renteria
Academic Achievement – Marlow Navarro
110% – Idee Kashindi
Defensive Player – Selemani Shukurani
Offensive Player- Joel Mwamba
MVP – Shabani Usseni
Outstanding Alumni – Tito Favela
Community MVP – Seyoum Kasa
Volunteer of the Year – Troy Knoell
Most Improved – Edgar Reynaga
Leadership – Shfeo Lar
Academic Achievement – Levi Bernal
110% – Marlow Navarro
Defensive player of the year – Yexon Cruz
Offensive player – Jaques Kashindi
MVP – Shfeo Lar
Shfeo Lar – UMKC
Abby Caudle – Missouri Valley College
Kara Lambros – York College
Selemani Shukurani – Kansas Christian College
Idee Kashindi – Kansas Christian College
Levi Bernal – Kansas Christian College
Furaha Lulinda – MCC
Shabani Usseni – MCC
Francisco Renteria – MCC
Jaritza Reynaga – MCC
CJ Cowick – MCC