WUSA Preseason: Murphy trades C-Rays for med school

Bay Area CyberRays draft pick Carmel Murphy gave up a shot at playing professional soccer to continue to pursue her medical career. "It will be a big loss for our team, but she acted shocked that I was happy for her," CyberRays coach Ian Sawyers said on March 1, the first day of training camp. "ItÆs an amazing accomplishment to be at the top of one field. To be at the top of two fields like her is very impressive, and to have two opportunities like this is almost unheard of." The former Stanford midfielder, who was the last overall pick in the December draft, struggled with the decision, particularly when she had to tell two former coaches -- Sawyers, who coached her at Stanford, and her father, Peter. Peter Murphy, who played in his native Ireland, coached his daughter for the first five years of her career in her hometown of La Jolla, near San Diego. Even though heÆs now retired, he still plays. "I grew up where the game is a huge part of life, and it will always be in my blood," he said. "My initial reaction when Carmel told me was that my voice start to break and I got all choked up. I felt so bad that she was worried about disappointing me. "I was very proud of her. You live your life sometimes vicariously through your kids, and she was a great soccer player. She showed me so many things when she play soccer that I learned from her rather than her learning from me." Murphy played three seasons under Sawyers at Stanford and was captain her senior year, earning all-America honors and a place on the fringe of the U.S. national team team. She remains fifth in Cardinal history in goals and assists. She also earned a small place in WUSA history when Sawyers made her the final pick overall in last DecemberÆs global draft. "ItÆs a huge relief," she said at the time. "There must be some word to describe being the very last person picked. I had almost thrown in the towel." Less than a week later, when CyberRays general manager Marlene Bjornsrud named Sawyers as the CyberRaysÆ coach, Murphy said "I love him as a coach. He definitely made me the player I am today." Which is why it was so difficult for her to break the news to two men in her life when the University of Vermont recently accepted her to its medical school, a goal she had worked for since her Stanford graduation in 1996. Her applications are still pending at six other medical schools. "I have been up at night trying to figure out what I want to do," she said. "I think I knew what the decision would be, but it was hardest to come to terms with Ian and my dad. My soccer meant a tremendous amount to him, and I feel indebted to Ian for putting his faith in me at Stanford and with the CyberRays." Since graduation, Murphy has run a mentoring program for freshman athletes at Stanford, and she has volunteered in the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital and in the pediatrics department at the University of San Francisco. But while she was pursuing her goal to be a pediatrician, she also continued to play soccer for Foothill FC in the WomenÆs Premier Soccer League. She eagerly accepted the invitation to the WUSAÆs December player combine in Boca Raton, Fla. "Going into combine, I didnÆt know if I would be drafted, and I didnÆt know my situation with medical school," she said. At age 26, Murphy said the choice for her was somewhat easier than it might have been had the opportunity to play professional soccer been available immediately after college graduation. "Like many of you, I have dedicated much of my life to the game of soccer," she wrote in a letter to her CyberRays teammates. "I havenÆt regretted a second of it. But I realize that I am now at a point where I must choose between the full commitment our team deserves and my passion to pursue a future career in medicine." She concluded: "I wish you all the best. Savor every moment of this awesome opportunity!"
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