In elementary school, Kyle Murphy would get asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
The same answer always came back: Professional soccer player.
On March 20, Murphy became what he always wanted to be.
He signed a professional contract to play soccer for the Rio Grande Valley Football Club Toros in Edinburg, Texas. The Toros play in the United Soccer League and are affiliated with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.
“It’s all been amazing, being able to live it,” Murphy said. “I’m happy with where I am and I think it’s going to be a good first step in my career.”
And he’s come a long way to take that first step.
Murphy’s roots are stemmed in Red Hook, where he starred for the high school boys soccer team as a forward before graduating in 2011. Murphy was the 2010 Poughkeepsie Journal Player of the Year.
After high school, Murphy played for Clemson University for five years, redshirting his freshman year, and in his redshirt junior year, Clemson won the ACC Tournament. Clemson made the NCAA final in 2015, falling to Stanford.
Red Hook boys soccer coach Steve Sutton sent Murphy a text message the day he signed his contract. Sutton doesn’t remember exactly what he said in that text message, but either way he is proud of his former player.
“I’m just thrilled at this point,” Sutton said. “He’s kind of stopped surprising me. He’s just been so dedicated his whole life to working and developing himself as a player.”
The hard work and dedication came full circle on March 26. The Toros played their first game of the season, though they took a 2-0 loss in Oklahoma to the Tulsa Roughnecks. However, Murphy liked the experience of his first game at the professional level.
“I just tried to soak everything in the best I could,” Murphy said. “Unfortunately we didn’t win, but it’s a learning process. I’m picking it up step by step.”
The biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to the new environment. Murphy noted that the professional level, compared to the college level, is “a lot more consistent.”
His high school coach helped prepare him for that level, though. Sutton said he used Murphy at various positions in high school.
“I always hoped that experience was valuable to him,” Sutton said. “I hope it benefited him. I’m not going to take credit for his technical development — he’s worked with so many great coaches and he’s been playing for so long.”
Moreover, Sutton and the Red Hook girls soccer coach Jason Pavlich traveled on more than one occasion to watch Murphy play at Clemson. Now, Sutton hopes he can get to a Toros game.
“I’ll be disappointed if I don’t make it to one at some point,” Sutton said.
The Toros’ next game will take place April 8 at 9 p.m. at Merlo Field against the Portland Timbers 2 in Portland, Oregon.
Murphy is hoping his progress continues as the season continues.
“I want to break into the starting lineup, score a couple goals,” Murphy said. “My main goal is to get to the Houston Dynamo, play at a high level and everything will take care of itself from there.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports