Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Jesuit High athlete finds home with Tampa Bay Rowdies

TAMPA — Every day on his way to work, Joe Donoho drives by his old high school, the same path he took weekday mornings as a teenager.

It has been a long ride back home, a path that has seen its share of hurdles, but Donoho finally feels he's right where he belongs — on the soccer field.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," Donoho said.

About two blocks away from Jesuit High, where Donoho was a standout basketball player, is Steinbrenner Field. Donoho now plays there as a member of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

"It's definitely a surprise for me to come in and be able to have success," he said. "I caught a break, and a lot of times, that's really what you need to be successful."

The 25-year-old has started the past four games at outside back for Tampa Bay, which hosts the Puerto Rico Islanders tonight, and scored goals in his first two starts.

Not bad for a player whose first love was basketball and who walked away from soccer two years ago. Until a few months ago, he had traded in his cleats for a 9-to-5 job, working for his father in his GEICO insurance office.

Donoho played club soccer from age 10 through high school for the Tampa Bay Kickers club (now HC United), but when he arrived at Jesuit, which has one of the top soccer programs in the bay area, he chose basketball (both sports are played during the winter season).

"Joe was one of the best players I've ever coached," Jesuit basketball coach Neal Goldman said. "Everyone knew he was a really good soccer player, too, but he just loved the competition in basketball. In the end, he was very resistant, but he knew his best opportunities were in soccer."

When colleges came calling, Donoho quickly realized that 6-foot-3 swingmen were a dime a dozen. He was only receiving offers to play basketball at Division II schools, but the I-A schools wanted him for soccer. He played soccer at Rutgers for two years, then an Achilles injury forced him to redshirt. He transferred to Bradley in Peoria, Ill., and by his senior season was an All-American.

He heard whispers that he might get drafted into MLS out of college, but it never happened. He thought his career was over. He played recreational soccer and joined the Jesuit alumni basketball league. He got a job as an insurance agent, but soccer eventually tugged at his heart.

"Being away from it, he missed it," said his mother, Carol. "He wanted to give it a try."

After training at Bradley, he earned a spot practicing with the MLS's Chicago Fire. Donoho said that earned him an invitation to the Rowdies' Tampa combine.

He made his first start two weeks ago in Carolina, scoring a goal. Five days later he scored in Austin. He has excelled as an outside back, even though he had never played the position.

"I've always played center back, so my first game I was so tired in the first half with all the running you do," Donoho said. "I had never played outside back before in my life. I don't even know if Coach (Paul Dalglish) knows that, but I wasn't going to say anything."


Rowdies (4-1-3) vs. Puerto Rico (2-2-0)

When/where: 7:30;

Steinbrenner Field, Tampa

Radio: 1010-AM

Tickets: Toll-free


Promotion: The first 1,500 adults will receive a beer mug, which can be used all season to receive 50 cents off Budweiser products. And the Rowdies will wear "Support Our Troops" jerseys, which will be auctioned after the game. Proceeds go to the team's "Tickets for Troops" program. Thirty jerseys are being sold for $75 each on

Former Jesuit High athlete finds home with Tampa Bay Rowdies 05/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 28, 2010 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bryan Harper's path to the majors, where his brother is a star, has been bumpy

    The Heater

    He has thrown 215 professional innings over 168 minor-league outings, and at various points the kid from Las Vegas has called Viera and Hagerstown, Md., and Harrisburg, Pa. and Syracuse, N.Y., and even Arlington, Va. home. During that summer he lived in the D.C. suburbs, he would rise some mornings with his brother in …

  2. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.
  3. Rays vs. Orioles, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Orioles

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Rays journal: Sergio Romo excited for fresh start in AL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Sergio Romo was about to play catch with LHP Adam Kolarek before Monday's batting practice when he paused.

    RAMOS EXITS: Rays catcher Wilson Ramos clutches his head after being beaned by Ruben Tejada’s broken bat in the fifth inning. Ramos leaves the game and receives six staples to close a laceration on his head.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    LHP Blake Snell stepped up when the Rays needed him to — and perhaps when he had to to keep his job — working a season-high seven plus innings. And it wasn't only that he got deep into the game, but how he did so, using his fastball to pound the strike zone.