Women’s Soccer Team Became Family for Lynn Murphy ’90

Lynn Murphy cropped
Lynn Murphy ’90 is the mental health liaison for the San Rafael (Calif.) Police Department, with a focus on helping people who are experiencing homelessness and severe mental illness. Murphy is a licensed marriage and family therapist and enjoys both the direct service component of her work and the policy level component, helping to create innovative ways that law enforcement can most effectively work with people with mental health issues.

She regularly receives calls from around the world from family members looking for a loved one. (When a woman called from Madagascar looking for her brother, Murphy was able to connect them and the sister flew to California to help stabilize him.) Murphy has a K9 partner, Blue, the mental health support dog. He responds to people in crisis and just generally provides love to everyone around town and the department!

At the College, Murphy played four years of varsity soccer; she continues to play in an adult league in San Francisco. She lives in Marin County with her wife, Kerry; three kids, Will, Charlie and Maybell; and their three dogs, three cats and seven chickens.

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

Oh, my! When I arrived at Columbia I was a baby. I was 17, and a young 17 at that. Although I had grown up on Long Island, a mere 40 miles east of Manhattan, I felt like I was in another world. I was excited and terrified at the same time. And there was certainly a bit of imposter syndrome happening — was I really supposed to be here? I was recruited to play soccer, and that became my anchor. It was great to have a built-in group of friends and teammates to welcome me that August of 1986. Had I not had the women’s soccer team, I would have been a little lost. They became my family. In fact, my co-captain, Kristin Friedholm-Bissinger ’90, and I remain close friends. Another part of my identity during my College years was my completely closeted sexual orientation. In 1986, it was certainly not as easy to be out in the world. I did my best to present as hetero, but I sure had my fair share of crushes on some of my female classmates!

What do you remember about your first-year living situation?

I have a very clear memory of moving into Carman 8 on a sweltering hot day and meeting my roommate, Susan Roediger ’90 (now Susan McDonough). I unpacked my shoes, which included about eight different types of athletic shoes and cleats with a pair of loafers thrown in. Susan had about 12 different pairs of various heels, or as we called them back then, “pumps.” I looked at her closet, then at mine and said, “You really can tell a lot about a person based on their shoes.” It was a match made in heaven. We got along so well that we lived together again sophomore year on the second floor of John Jay in what is currently the health center. It was a very odd spot that only had about five rooms with one co-ed bathroom. Interesting times! Susan and I remain close and I’m her son’s godmother, albeit not a very good one!

What Core class or experience do you most remember, and why?

The most surprising Core class for me was Music Hum. I remember putting it off because I thought I wouldn’t like it and that it would be hard. Well, it turns out it was one of my favorite classes! I think that’s because we learned how to listen to the music with intention and with a goal of creating meaning from what the composer created. I also would not have gone to a live performance of classical music if it were not for Music Hum. And now the classical station is on my pre-sets in the car.

Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?

I would say I had two. In warm weather, without a doubt, Low Steps. I loved sitting there, eating there, connecting there. In fact, The New York Times Magazine did a cover story, “Columbia Recovered,” on May 15, 1988, with a photo of the Steps full of people. There I am right next to Alma Mater on the cover. I still have it. My other favorite spot was Baker Field. I spent many days there. It was like a second home to me.

What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?

Lynn and Blue_cropped

Murphy with her K9 partner, Blue

I wish that I had had the strength and courage to come out and be my authentic self. I think that living a closeted life puts a filter on every experience one has. I was me, but not my true me. I would love to go back and re-do college as Lynn Murphy, the out and proud lesbian!