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Turner Alumni Named Student Entrepreneur of the Year – and Invites THS Soccer Coach to Award Ceremony

Lesly Romo, Turner High School alumni from the Class of 2021, is making a name for herself in the Kansas City entrepreneurial space. Of those cheering her on is her high school soccer coach, Sara Jackson.

As Romo looks towards graduating from the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) next year, she plans to put her passion for soccer into a business venture.

As a student at Turner High School, Romo found success on the soccer team. She shared that athletics have always been an outlet for her.

“When I played soccer, I felt so in tune with myself. As a competitive person, I would look forward to playing soccer and soon became addicted to the growth of getting better day by day.”

Romo took that ethos and applied it to her collegiate career at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). She was accepted into the Bloch School of Management as well as UMKC Enactus, which has a mission of ‘engaging the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders to use innovation and business principles to improve the world.’ Currently, Romo holds the role of vice president of projects for the program.

Jackson, a Turner High School English Language Arts teacher who coached the Golden Bears soccer team when Romo was a student athlete, shared how impressed she has been with Romo since she graduated.

“Lesly is a proud young woman, and rightfully so. At the same time, she is humble and unafraid to ask questions, a difficult balance for even the most experienced entrepreneurs. Her first semester at UMKC is when she joined Enactus, and I remember thinking, ‘What a great fit for such a determined businesswoman!’”

During her freshman entrepreneurship courses at UMKC, Romo developed a proposal for a venture that she would ultimately call Golazo, a multi-faceted soccer facility that offers the world’s diverse forms of futbol – like teqball, bubble, and eight ball pool soccer - all in one place.

Romo is partly motivated by her own passion for the sport, but also by the enthusiasm shown by the Kansas City community. With participation in the sport growing regionally and the fact that the city will host the World Cup in 2026, she feels that Golazo can be more than a facility – it will cultivate a diverse soccer ecosystem.

Romo will continue to use her entrepreneurial skills and network to work towards her vision for Golazo. This semester, she was accepted into an accelerator program, Entrepreneurship Scholars. The program assists with business development, culminating in an application process where twenty business ventures will be selected to move forward.

This work she has put into developing this project, along with her many other accolades - including success as a bilingual real estate agent - earned Romo recognition in the local entrepreneur community.

In December 2023, Romo was named as the UMKC Bloch School of Management Student Entrepreneur of the Year.

When she learned of this recognition, she was told she could invite the people who have been key to her development – and her mind went to those who have supported her throughout both her best moments and the ones in which she struggled. The decision was easy, and on the list was her former soccer coach, Sara Jackson.

“Coach Jackson was one of those individuals who helped me through the first moment in my life where I truly struggled with myself,” said Romo.

Jackson was beyond honored by this invitation.

“Lesly neglected to inform me of how momentous an award she was to receive when she invited me to join her family at the ceremony,” said Jackson. “When she called, she said it so casually that I had to ask her to repeat it. Even after realizing what she was inviting me to, I didn't truly grasp the prestige of the award until the names of Kansas City's biggest and brightest entrepreneurs were listed throughout the ceremony.”

During Romo’s acceptance speech, Jackson could hear the pride and drive in her voice that has gotten her to where she is today. She shared, “I know it means the world to Lesly to represent her family and her culture as best she can. It is beyond inspiring to see such a young and bright woman tackle her dreams and make them into a reality.”

For many teachers and coaches, the best part of a career in education is the positive impact they hope to make on their students. For Romo to invite her high school coach to this momentous occasion is a testament to the importance of the support and encouragement that school staff provide for students.

About the impact that Jackson had on her, Romo shared, “Coach Jackson was a vital part of allowing me to keep my sparkle in a time when it was dimming.”

Romo said she knows that she is not the only one who has been positively impacted by Jackson. “She guides each student to figure out what they like, even when they don’t have all the resources, or the hope that they can remotely have dreams to pursue. I know she has impacted hundreds of students in her time as a teacher, and I am certain she will continue to do so for many more years to come.”

In reflecting on this recognition, Romo said that she is honored to be named Student Entrepreneur of the Year – it not only is a mark of her growth but will also “serve as a tribute to those guiding lights in my life including the presence of mentors like Coach Jackson.”

We are very proud of Lesly Romo and look forward to seeing the incredible work she goes on to do. We also appreciate her for continuing to stay involved in her alma mater - she has volunteered her time with Turner High School's business programs by conducting mock interviews and presenting her entrepreneurial knowledge to students.

As a school district, we know there are many stories like this, of our incredible educators and coaches having a lasting impact on our students, even years after they have left our classrooms.

While we loved learning about this story and the success by one of our alumni, we want to recognize all of our educators and staff that make up our district. Their encouragement and support of our students both academically and in their extracurricular achievements is part of what makes education so important.