WINNIPEG, MB. - One of the finest young soccer players in Manitoba has made her decision.
Manitoba Blizzard centre back Kaitlyn Morphy, 16, has committed to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma, starting in 2019.
After a couple of years of attending ID camps and playing big U.S. recruitment tournaments with the Blizzard, Morphy decided that Northwestern was a perfect fit. Although she did get a number of offers from other NCAA schools.
“Right from the start I had such a really good bond with Coach Craig Liddell,” said Morphy. “He just brings so much energy to the table. I really like his coaching style and the way he wants his team to play the game. We met at the Oklahoma State University ID camp that I attended. He pulled me aside and said, ‘I really like how you play, and I understand you’re a Canadian. I married a Canadian, I know all about Canada!’ That’s how the conversation started.”
“We had a couple of conversations during that camp, which was 14 months ago, and then we kept in close contact after that.” added Morphy. Northwestern coaches then attended several tournaments to watch Kaitlyn play again in person, and then invited her to visit the school this summer. For a Division II school, Kaitlyn’s commitment is early. She is their first commit for 2019.
Morphy is the daughter of Winnipeg Jets Vice-President, Dorian Morphy and his wife Kim, Vice-President of Special Olympics Manitoba, and the granddaughter of the late Scott Walker, the founder of the Manitoba Dragon Boat Festival.
“Some US schools have figured out that recruiting Canadians is good way to build a program. These coaches learn that Canadian kids are good students, well-brought-up and extremely under-recruited” said Dorian.
Until she plays for Northwestern, the Grade 11 student will continue her high school at Glenlawn Collegiate, where she trains with the Manitoba Elite Regional Excel (REX) soccer program. Licensed by the Canada Soccer Association, the REX program is a Full-Time National-Curriculum High-Performance Program, run under the guidance of Canadian National Team coaching staff.
With approximately six players selected per age group, REX players train every morning -- before school from September to May -- with the top players in the province. All players attend Glenlawn in order to accommodate transportation and soccer-specific weight training in lieu of regular physical education classes.
Meanwhile, she will continue to play in showcase tournaments with the Blizzard, a team comprised of the top 2019 graduates in the province, coached by Jim Zinko and managed by former NHL goaltender Trevor Kidd. This winter, the Blizzard will attend the Surf College Cup Showcase in San Diego, rated the top recruiting event in youth soccer; the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Showcase in Minnesota in February and the Vancouver Whitecaps Showcase in Vancouver in late March.
As well, Kaitlyn just returned from Club Nationals where her team, the U-17 Bonivital Flames, finished fourth in the country, losing in the Bronze Medal game to Nova Scotia. Kaitlyn was one of two 16-year-olds asked to join the roster coached by Jorge Cabral.
Kaitlyn’s plan is to study Exercise Science at Northwestern Oklahoma State, preparing her for further education in either Athletic Therapy or Physiotherapy. As well, she looks forward to a successful experience with the Rangers, a team that plays in the Great American Conference.
“I’ll be excited when it’s time to go,” Kaitlyn said with a laugh. “It will be great to make new friends and play for a new team, but it’s also scary to think about leaving home. For me though, I’ll have soccer. Coach Liddell is very much about family and culture, so that should make the adjustment easier.”
Scott Taylor for The Manitoba Post
Photos courtesy the Morphy Family
(This story originally appeared in SportsLife Magazine)