Patricia Trippley Demiranda: Helping kids through soccer
Patricia Trippley Demiranda is cheering as loudly today as she did when her son was a star soccer player in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Back then, when Will Trippley kicked his way to scholarships, championships and international competition, his mother was always on the sidelines rooting for him.
But Trippley couldn’t escape his violent neighborhood in Chester, Pa. In 2004 at 20, he was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight and was shot and killed.
Demiranda now is cheering for youngsters growing up in the same troubled city of Chester and playing the sport her son loved. She is working through a foundation started in her son’s memory to use sports as a way to motivate and encourage.
The William Trippley Youth Development Foundation sponsors free soccer programs and camps to teach leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork — skills that will serve youngsters on and off the field. Since the organization was founded in 2004, more than 200 youngsters in Chester have participated in foundation programs.
“I want to reach out and touch the babies,” said Demiranda, who is known as Ms. Pat. “I know how hard it was when I was out here raising my children.”
Demiranda and her husband divorced when Will was 8. She raised Will and her daughter Jovonne mostly as a single parent. She works as postmaster at a local post office and at one time took a second job to help fund her son’s interest in soccer.
When Will developed into a talented player, he scored a scholarship to a private school and played in championship soccer clubs. He traveled to competitions in California and Mexico, and documented many of his experiences in essay writing, artwork and rap music.
“My son was a thinker,” Demiranda said. “Soccer took him where he wanted to go and helped him do the things he wanted to do.”
Five years ago, Trippley was walking near his home on Easter Sunday when he was gunned down. A neighbor ran to Demiranda’s door and screamed, Will “got shot.”
Family and friends didn’t mourn alone. Thousands in the city of Chester turned out for a memorial service. Demiranda – who had remarried – coped by holding on to feelings of anger and isolating herself from family and friends. When she wanted to hear her son’s voice, she listened to the CD of rap music he had recorded.
“I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me,” Demiranda said. “I was a good mother.”
She eventually started moving toward acceptance when her husband bluntly told her that she wasn’t the only who was hurting.
The anger was replaced by a resolve to start a foundation that would honor her son and help youngsters from his neighborhood. Friends, community groups and city agencies partnered with the foundation to start a camp and soccer league. A professional soccer team is building a new stadium in the city. Team officials have also contacted Demiranda to ask how they can help.
“I want the kids to learn conflict resolution; to know that they can work with people of all nationalities and that anybody can be their friend forever,” Demiranda said. She also wants to offer assistance to financially-strapped families.
“If they need something,” Demiranda said, “I want them to know Ms. Pat’s got your back.”