William Trippley was an accomplished youth soccer player. He was a member of the renowned Philadelphia-area youth club FC Delco and the Region 1 ODP team.
But all of that ended on Easter Sunday in 2004, when he was murdered a few blocks from his home in Chester, Penn.
After William’s death, his mother, Patricia Trippley Demiranda understandably couldn’t let him go. His memory—and the memory of his love of soccer—meant too much.
So in 2006, Demiranda and two of William’s closest friends and soccer teammates, Justin Pines and Neal Regino, established the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation, a nonprofit enabling children in and around Chester, Penn., to play the game William lived for.
“When he was murdered, I didn’t want my son’s legacy to go by the wayside,” Demiranda says. “We sat down and thought of some things we could possibly do to help the children of Chester. He loved the game, and what soccer did for him we wanted to give children that same opportunity.”
Demiranda’s main objective was to get children off the streets and into an after-school program; she also wanted to give children opportunities to see the world outside of Chester. Today, the foundation helps 400 children play soccer year round, providing opportunities for them to train at Villanova University, Swarthmore College, and indoor facilities. It also offers scholarships to attend summer camp at Widener University. Mostly considered a basketball town, Chester is the site of the Philadelphia Union’s new home stadium, PPL Park. Ironically, it was the only city in Delaware County without a soccer program.
“Justin, Neal, and Pat enrolled kids in Chester who had never seen a soccer ball, gave them a chance to get out and do something, in Will’s name,” recalls Justin’s father, David Pines. Recently, the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation partnered with the Philadelphia Union and other community organizations to develop Chester City United, Chester’s first-ever youth soccer program. The program will soon be receiving a full-sized natural grass field courtesy of a $50,000 grant won by the Union in a recent Pepsi Refresh Project contest.
For her efforts, Demiranda was named a Community MVP as part of the Community MVP program established by MLS W.O.R.K.S. in partnership with The Home Depot.
“Pat is an extraordinary leader,” said David Pines. “She has an iron resolve that her son’s memory will be honored. If I opened a dictionary to the word ‘MVP,’ Pat’s picture would be there because she is just that, the MVP. She set out to transform Chester as a mission, and she has.”
The Community MVP program recognizes people who are making a difference in their local communities. Sixteen MVPs were selected, one from each MLS market, and they will all be recognized during the halftime ceremony at MLS Cup 2010 at BMO Field in Toronto on November 21. The Community MVPs were chosen for their efforts in community service, youth development, environmental sustainability, health, wellness, education, and military or civic service.
Their inspiring stories, often rooted in tragedy, misfortune, and inequality, demonstrate the great lengths these local heroes have gone to improve the lives of their neighbors. From 16 different cities and backgrounds, each MVP is bound to the next either in their initiative, motivation for change, or love of soccer.
The MVPs’ stories often run along similar lines. Echoing Demiranda’s effort to memorialize a loved one, Matt Moran Jr.—chosed by FC Dallas as their Community MVP—is honoring a departed friend through the creation of soccer programs. Moran’s close friend, FC Dallas reserve Freddy Garcia, unexpectedly passed away November 3, 2009, leaving his friends and family in a state of shock.
“The autopsy came back inconclusive, which hits home for me because my sister died at a young age and we didn’t know how that happened either," Moran says. "Freddy was the nicest, most polite, most original, funniest person I’ve ever met in my life. He had so much charisma that anyone that ran into Freddy had nothing but positive things to say." Determined to honor Freddy's life, Moran gathered friends and family to establish the Freddy Fund, an initiative to gather support and build a soccer field and memorial.
"Freddy loved family,” Moran says. “He loved friends. He loved soccer. When he could combine all three, he did and that was what made Freddy tick. The purpose of the project is to have a living memorial to honor Freddy, to combine all three of his loves." Moran aims to model the memorial design after Freddy’s free-flowing personality.
“His ‘Freddyisms’ would shed light on a situation in a different way,” Moran recalls. “We want to incorporate one-line phrases into the construction of the facility and make it into an iconic place where street footballers can go.”
With the help of a Planning Grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Moran hopes to commence construction of the mini-field and memorial next summer. He hopes to conclude the process for the start of next school year.
“Matt is very persuasive and passionate. I wanted to be involved and participate," remarked friend and participant Michael Morales says. "Matt was a huge spark-plug in getting people together to get this project done. Matt has done a great job in keeping us all together and focused on the same objective.”
Like all the Community MVPs, Moran set out to make a difference. And is succeeding.