Justin Morrow ’06 is a walking embodiment of what Saint Ignatius means when it speaks of forming leaders, scholars and men for others. His purpose-driven life has allowed him to not only flourish in the game of soccer but amplify the voices of those living and playing in the margins.
This comes as no surprise. His father and mother are faith-loving, hard-working midwesterners who have always lived with that same purpose and perseverance. They instilled in him traditional values of public leadership: respect, commitment, resilience and empathy. They also taught him an important lesson—to fight for his dreams.
Justin started playing soccer at the age of five. The rest is history. He spent most of his childhood immersed in soccer as a gifted athlete and a spirited competitor. He slept with his brand-new cleats by his bedside and dreamt of playing at the highest levels.
You might not know that those dreams often felt far from reality for Morrow. “I wasn’t the best player on any of our winning teams; my best friends Mark Blades ’06 and Barry Rice ’06 remind me,” Justin says with a laugh as he reflects on his time at Ignatius. “I was constantly trying to live up to or beat these guys, which motivated me to push harder. It wasn’t simply about winning games; it was about getting the best out of each other.”
This work ethic built at Saint Ignatius laid the foundation for his future success throughout his collegiate career at the University of Notre Dame and his twelve-year professional career in Major League Soccer. At Saint Ignatius, Morrow was an integral part of the school’s first-ever state championship-winning soccer team in 2004. As a senior, he led the attack on the Saint Ignatius team that would go undefeated to repeat as State Champions and captured the school’s first-ever National Championship for soccer in 2005.
In doing so, he became known for his dynamic ability that combined speed and skill, often wrong-footing defenders on his way to the goal. That graceful stride also landed him on the track team, where he anchored the 4x800m relay in the 2006 state championships.
The relentless tenacity to follow his dreams took Morrow to the next level. In his twelve-year career playing soccer in the MLS, he never lost sight of that young kid with a wild dream. In 2021, Justin hung up his cleats for good, but his legacy in the sport extends beyond his All-Star, Championship-winning professional career.
In 2021 he was named MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his role in using soccer as a vehicle for inclusivity. He currently serves as the Head of Sports Partnerships and Programs at the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, where he’s focused on helping professional and collegiate sports departments maximize their social impact.
According to Justin, this passion was brewing while at Saint Ignatius. “I think it was during my time at Saint Ignatius that I started critiquing the world. I think it was then that I started to make plays off the field that mattered more than the plays on the field.”
Justin will be inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame on August 12 at Wildcats Roar. Tickets for the event are still available.