Being goalkeeper for a soccer team can be rough, as soccer balls are constantly flying at your face. But broken noses and concussions didn’t keep one goalkeeper from playing the sport she loves.
Junior marketing major Mercedes Murray is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is the sixth child of eight. Murray, 24, has a marketing associates degree from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Murray came to Franciscan University of Steubenville from Canada in fall 2020 after her mother suggested going to school in the states.
“I was supposed to go traveling to Asia for three months,” said Murray. “And then COVID happened. So, I canceled that and got laid off of work. So, I was sitting at home for two months … because all of the schools in Canada are all online, and I cannot do online learning.”
“My mom said ‘OK, then you can go to Franciscan.’ … She kept saying Franciscan over and over again, and I was like ‘Mom, I’m not going to Franciscan, it’s going to be way too expensive, it’s just not going to happen.’ And she (said), ‘Just look it up.’
“And I looked it up and the Step in Faith program was on the first page, and she was like ‘Guess you’re going to Franciscan.’”
Murray has played soccer since she was 8 years old and has also participated in gymnastics and competitive swimming.
Murray said she was inspired to start soccer because “I saw my brother’s girlfriend at the time, now wife — she played soccer and I thought she was so cool. I was like ‘I want to do that’ and she got me into it.”
The soccer team at Franciscan has been a good support system for Murray since she arrived.
“I think the team is just one big family,” said Murray. “There’s moments when you kind of hate each other, but it’s all love, and I don’t know, I’ve never had a team that’s so supportive, especially with me getting back into soccer after so many years of not playing.
“They’re all coaching me through it and reminding me of what I need to do, and I feel like I’ve improved even in just the last week so much, just from their support.”
Murray took a break from soccer when she was 18 due to a concussion that left her out for the count for a year and a half. Starting up soccer at Franciscan was the first time she came back to the sport since then.
Murray has suffered concussions and broken noses in the time she’s played goalkeeper, which began when she was 10 years old. Murray has played goalkeeper for every team she’s played with.
“I was playing forward for like three years,” said Murray. “And then the goalkeeper got injured or something, so they were like ‘Who wants to play?’ It was community league, so no one said anything, and I was like ‘Sure!’ and I ended up being really good. Then the year after I got recruited to a club team to play goalkeeper, and I got trained by a professional from Poland, and I did that for three years on and off.”
Murray said she has never at any point wanted to quit soccer and has loved it ever since she got back into it.
“My favorite is when it feels almost slo-mo when you dive for the ball,” said Murray. “You’re like mid-air, and you make contact with the ball and catch it, and it’s not even a fumble or punching it out of the way. You just got a full grasp, and you land fully on your side like a perfect dive. It’s awesome.”
When Murray was concussed the first time around, she went blind one day and was traumatized by it, but says that she’s not as scared now getting back into soccer at Franciscan.
“This time around I don’t feel scared to be in the net,” said Murray. “I feel completely fearless. … God wanted me to be on this team, so, I’m going to trust that he’s going to take care of me, and I guess that’s the difference of having God involved in your sport versus not having it.”
Murray said that being a student athlete has helped her with her studies, time management and just all-around as a student.
“Get that bread,” said Murray.