Donawa a genuine sporting all-rounder
Justin Donawa's decision to pursue a professional career in football is a loss for both athletics and cricket, two other sports in which he showed tremendous promise.
Donawa, the son of veteran distance runner Jay Donawa, is one of Bermuda's many multitalented sportsmen, good enough to win a Carifta Games gold medal in triple jump in 2012 in Bermuda, after winning a bronze in Jamaica the year before.
He showed talent, too, in cricket where he was an up-and-coming fast bowler for Somerset, but in the end football won out, with the 22-year-old being selected by Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew on Monday in the SuperDraft.
“I always knew that football was his first love, but I always felt he controlled his destiny a little bit more in track and field simply because it's an individual sport and based on performance,” said Jay, whose father Albert played for Somerset in Cup Match.
“With a team sport, it depends on how you fit into the product as opposed to track which is more individual.
“He set the plan and now he's reaping the rewards. I don't want him to have any regrets; just go for it and see where it takes him. He has his Ivy League education to fall back on.”
Jay added: “I can't take too much credit; I did what most parents would do. I didn't play football for him, go to his classes for him or do triple jump; he did it on his own.”
“What makes me really proud of him is his humility. It's a part of who he is.
“He has a burning desire internally, although he doesn't really show it externally. He's living his dream and I'm excited that a little boy from 6 West End Lane in Somerset is doing well. I'm going to be even more proud when I go to his graduation and see him walking as an Ivy League graduate.
“My father played Cup Match a couple of times and never pushed my brother [Michael] and me to play cricket. It was always a sport I loved, but played the least, just because of my success in running.”
Donawa has not played cricket locally for a couple of years because of school commitments. Cricket is very much in his blood, with uncles Mark and Roger Trott both former Cup Match players for Somerset.
“The cricket was something he showed a lot of potential in,” Jay recalled. “He would literally come back from school and go down to Somerset and play that weekend. Cricket was more like a hobby.”
Justin has been in school in the United States for eight years, first Berkshire School, a boarding school in Massachusetts, before attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
He was a 15-year-old student at Berkshire when he won gold in the triple jump at the Carifta Games, with a leap of 14.63 metres. It was Bermuda's fourth gold medal in the under-17 triple jump at Carifta.
“I remember it so vividly; it was a proud moment in my sporting career,” said Justin, a Junior Male Athlete of the Year winner in 2014.
“It's definitely something that I'm proud that I was able to do, not just for myself but for Bermuda, and on home soil which made it even sweeter.
“I'm definitely looking forward to making some more moments like that in football. To play multiple sports as a child is important in order to be as well rounded as possible.”