Published in The News-Herald
August 19, 2018
Every so often in soccer, the point isn’t the tactics on the pitch or what’s on the scoreboard after a match.
Aug. 17 for Kenston, as it hosted neighborhood rival Chagrin Falls to kick off the season in a match that was part of the Friday Night Futbol initiative, the point was Lori Murphy.
Murphy, whose son Jack played for the Bombers and graduated this past year and who was a team manager during her son’s career, died Aug. 9. Her passing came two days after her 59th birthday, following a courageous battle with breast cancer.
With Murphy’s family in attendance, her passing was acknowledged in a prematch ceremony, and a moment of silence was held.
While the scoreline was not quite what Kenston had in mind, with the Tigers recording a 3-0 victory in the 46th renewal of one of this area’s top rivalries in the sport, it went beyond soccer on this night.
“Personally for me, Lori did a lot for me,” Bombers coach Josh Sladick said. “She really helped me out during Jack’s senior year. She was my team manager. The woman was a saint. When we as a program showed up to her wake, we wanted to give Jack and the family the respect that Lori deserved.
“I made the comment, when we had our opening-season picnic that, ‘You may graduate — and hopefully you will graduate and go on to do great things after college. You will be known as a Kenston alumni, but you are always part of the Kenston Bomber family.’ And so, when you’re part of a family, you support your family. So doing this tonight — it wasn’t expected. It was deserved.”
In her honor, Kenston wore pink jerseys against Chagrin, kits that will also be used for the Bombers’ annual Kick for a Cure match.
Players also sported black armbands in Murphy’s memory.
Sladick acknowledged, as a Twinsburg native, he understands rivalry matches with neighboring schools from his own high school days. And he knows Chagrin is right at the top of the list for Kenston. But in addition, it was important for Sladick to impart on his side the importance of a cause beyond soccer.
“When I first got the job here, that is the first thing I did was I purchased pink uniforms for the varsity team at that time,” Sladick said.
“I am a huge proponent for cancer (awareness). My dad unfortunately suffers from melanoma and throat cancer. He deals with that, so cancer holds a special place in my heart. Grandparents suffered from cancer. So Lori, with her situation, we wanted to make sure, when October comes, we have the pink kits. So that’s why we made sure we did. And luckily we have them, so we are able to do things like tonight.”