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Donald looking to gets ‘kicks’ as pro
Ex-BHS soccer star, third-team All-American, said injury changed his outlook


Demetrius Donald was already a special soccer player before the 2005 fall season began.

But thanks to an unusual “wake-up call” last spring, this 22-year-old former two-time All-state midfielder at Bearden High School outdid himself as a midfielder at NCAA Division II Queens College in Charlotte, N.C.

Named Carolinas-Virginias Athletic Conference Player of the Year as conference-leader in goals and assists — 10 goals and 10 assists for the 15-4 Royals — Donald earned third-team Division II All-American honors and first-team All-Southeast Region in 2005.

And with Donald’s senior season success, a minor league professional career now seems a real possibility.


It’s all because of harder training with a new sense of purpose.

And that was due to an injury.

Although having ankle problems that were more of an aggravation, Donald said he had never been seriously injured in his soccer career until last spring.

“I sprained my L-C-L [ligament] in my knee,” Donald said. “If anything, that injury was a blessing in disguise. ... When I got injured I was kinda getting burned out on soccer just a little bit.

“But when I got injured and wasn’t able to practice every day and wasn’t able to play the games, and just had to watch, it renewed my passion for soccer. I missed it that much more,” he added.

“I don’t think I would have trained as hard this summer or tried to make myself a better player.” Donald said he told himself, “‘I really love doing this, I really need to rededicate myself to this and get serious about it’”

Had the “wake-up” injury not occurred, “After my senior year I would have definitely given it up,” Donald said.

Making a full recovery by fall, Donald said he’s carried over his new passion and determination into his post-Queens career workouts as a minor league professional career looms.

Because of his senior success, “I’ve been invited to several semi-professional tryouts,” he said, adding that the league, the United Soccer League [first division], “is one level below” Major League Soccer.

“I have four or five teams I’ll be trying out for,” Donald said, adding that he’s already tried out for the Atlanta Silverbacks and is among four invited back for another tryout session in Atlanta..

“I had very positive conversations with the coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps,” Donald added about possibly playing in Canada next year.

Donald said his pro career fate will be determined early next year prior to the start of the USL season in April.

Fred Norchi, Queens head coach, said Donald “makes the game look so easy. ... We’ve had ten All-Americans the past fifteen years at Queens. We’ve never had a soccer player with his grace and natural ability.”

Praising his work ethic, Norchi said Queens will miss Donald’s “leadership, his winning ability and his great attitude.”

One of 10 Division II midfilders nationally named All-American, Donald came alongside former BHS teammate Matt Herbstritt, a junior who as Bulldog teammates helped Bearden win two Class AAA sate titles and the 2002 national title with an unbeaten season.

At Queens, Donald also worked alongside former Farragut High School standouts Bruce Mottern and Michael Hensen, fellow All-Southeast Region honorees.

Donald himself also earned first-team All-conference honors and second-team All-Southeast Region last season, in addition to being named Academic All-American, Southeast Region.

A psychology major at a school of approximately 2,500 students, Donald said his current grade point average is 3.59, adding he is set to graduate in May.

During his career, Donald helped lead Queens to four consecutive regular season conference titles and two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.

That leadership was evident as a freshman, leading the team with 12 goals plus six assists. After what Donald said was an “off” sophomore season (six goals, five assists), the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder bounced back with a team-leading 10 goals plus seven assists last year as a junior.

Donald was a forward his first three seasons at Queens.

His mother, Liz Donald, followed her son’s career at Queens to every game “within a five-hour drive” according to Demetrius.

If he ends up in Vancouver, “I guess I’ll have to get a plane to Canada,” Liz Donald said. Demetrius said his father, Phineas, also went to several Queens games the past four years.

THE BEGINNING

Starting at age 4 with the AYSO’s Green Machine, coached by John Adams, “I really wanted to play because my brother was playing,” Donald said of older brother, Kamani. “I loved it from the beginning .... I was active as a child, I wanted to do something where I could run around and have a good time.

“I really loved being chased, I loved having the ball and just trying to avoid people and have people chase me around the field.”

Donald said Adams “took me under his wing. Even though I was considerably younger and smaller than everybody, I guess he recognized my ability, He invited me to play on his son’s competitive team.”

Asked about his strongest asset, “My intelligence,” Donald said. “That’s what I prided myself on, even as a kid.”

Because of his small size, “I had to be able to put myself in the right position and the right situation to kinda have an edge over people.”

Will Donald’s edge carry over into the pros?

 

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