Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former UT soccer player killed in South Africa set bar high

Nicole Murphy was one of two deceased St. Thomas More High graduates honored Wednesday in Lafayette, La.

Brad Kemp | Lafayette (La.) Advertiser

Nicole Murphy was one of two deceased St. Thomas More High graduates honored Wednesday in Lafayette, La.

TAMPA — As her team advanced to one NCAA Tournament after another, eventually winning a national championship, Nicole Murphy was the fittest of the bunch.

The former University of Tampa soccer player set the standard, spending extra time in the gym and even showing up to practice one day after completing a marathon. Murphy's teammates tried outdoing her at anything fitness-related, though they knew it wasn't possible.

"She just always expected more from herself, which made her teammates expect more from ourselves," said Shelby Kuni, a former UT player.

Murphy, 24, died Tuesday after being struck by a car while attending the World Cup in South Africa with her father and siblings. Her brother is in an intensive care unit and is expected to recover, the family said. One of her sisters suffered a concussion.

The family believes a drunken driver hit them while they were in a designated walking area.

Murphy graduated magna cum laude from UT in 2008, and was two years into medical school at LSU-New Orleans. Her brother Lucas, 27, who was not on the trip, said Murphy also was in the Army reserves.

Lucas Murphy thinks his family made it to two World Cup games. They would have been at today's United States-Slovenia match.

"It was her dream to go there and do something like that," Murphy's brother said.

Murphy was a four-year starter at UT. The Lafayette, La., native played defender for the Spartans and helped lead them to the Division II national title in 2007. Only two others played more minutes than she did that year.

"She had the energy to go the full 90 minutes," UT coach Gerry Lucey said.

Murphy played in 84 career games, scoring five goals. Her senior year, she made the All-Sunshine State Conference first team and was an all-tournament player.

Assistant coach Don Tobin remembers Murphy making a big stop in a postseason game en route to the championship. She always seemed to do something special on the field, he said.

"When the game was on the line, she was there," Tobin said, "whether it was kicking a ball off the goal line and saving us, or getting us a goal."

Friend and teammate Shannon Agnew spoke to Murphy, or "Murph" as she was known by the team, just days before she left for South Africa.

"She loved to travel, so I wasn't even surprised that she had tickets to South Africa," she said. "Murph was just excited to go over and see soccer like that and just be traveling the world."

While in college, the two competed in their first triathlon. They agreed to stick together, but Agnew said she should have known better.

Murphy waited for her at the finish line, Agnew recalled, "with a big dumb grin on her face."

Funeral arrangements haven't been announced yet. The University of Tampa will honor Murphy at an alumni game in August.

Kevin Smetana can be reached at (813) 661-2439 or

Former UT soccer player killed in South Africa set bar high 06/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.