Sumner coach inspires on and off the field

The Sumner Spartans with coach Robi Turley (bottom right holding the ball) pose for a photo after defending its title beating Bellingham 2-0.

Girls soccer coach Robi Turley has been coaching the Spartans for nine years and for the first time in Sumner School District history, a team has won back to back championships.

The Sumner Spartans defended its state title beating the Bellingham Red Raiders 2-0 in the state championship game on Nov. 23.

Turley grew up in Auburn and attended Auburn High School. She played three sports in high school and went to the University of Oregon where she played soccer for the Ducks.

Before starting her coaching career at Sumner, Turley coached at Kent Meridian High School and the Washington Premier FC Club team.

Junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach Lisa Murray started coaching with Turley at the club level. When a coaching position at Bonney Lake High School opened up, Murray told Turley she thought of applying and instead Turley told her to come and coach along side her at Sumner.

Murray did and has now had the opportunity of coaching two of her daughters one who graduated in 2010 and one who is still on the team, junior Alyssa Murray.

Turley said talent and determination allowed the Spartans to not only go to state again but to also defend its title.

“We had an up and down season but it peaked when it counted the most,” she said.

Turley said the Spartans will be five seniors short next season but that shouldn’t stop them from competing.

“My junior class (has) stellar athletes and have had quite the career so far,” she said. “Experience will be to our advantage.”

The success over the last two years, Murray credits to having extremely dedicated girls on the team who play soccer all year round.

“We have girls who want to play soccer,” she said. “We don’t just have girls that are athletic but we have actual soccer players.”

Not only does Turley help her team succeed on the soccer field, volunteer assistant coach Lindsay Smith said, “she teaches them more than just soccer, she teaches them the importance of being a good person and a positive member of society.”

Murray added, she has created a culture that allows the girls to be active in the community, whether that means participating in cancer walks, volunteering or being the marshals at the Santa parade for two years in a row.

Because of Turley, the team understands to be not only good soccer players but also be good representatives of Sumner High School.

“The girls have a role in the Sumner community and that is because of Robi,” Murray said.

And Smith added, Turley encourages good grades among her athletes.

“She recognizes the importance of being a student athlete,” she said.

Murray said Turley is a good female role model not only for the players but for other coaches out there. She said it is cool to see young, talented female coaches.

Smith said Turley is a very humble person and that she feels like that is one her many great qualities.

“Robi does not seek recognition for anything she does whether it is things in school or soccer, she is always making sure other people get recognized for their efforts,” Smith said.

She said even when Turley won Coach of the Year, she didn’t take credit for it but gave the credit to her assistant coaches and the players and parents and her family.

Murray also credits the girls for the success of the team.

“It is the girls who win the games,” she said.

There is a huge time commitment to coaching, Murray said and Turley sacrifices a lot. Turley is a mom of two and she works hard to find a good balance, Murray said.

“She is an inspiration to her students and athletes and myself included,” Smith said. “The world needs more people like Robi. I have learned so much about coaching, being a teacher and more importantly being a good person from her.”

The amount of respect and support the school and community shows the team and Turley is unbelievable, Murray said. They are behind her 100 percent, she added.

To be a Spartan and wear the purple and gold, Murray said, is an absolute honor.