Nathan Donovan named to All-American first team

The first player in UWEC Soccer history to be awarded

More stories from Sophie Geske

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December 14, 2022
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Photo by Bill Hoepner

Second-year forward soccer player Nathan Donovan was awarded United Soccer Coaches Association first-team All-American. He is the first in the UW-Eau Claire men’s soccer history to receive this award.

Donovan said that while this award was not his main goal, he is very proud of it. He is more focused on team goals and winning a national championship than on individual goals.

“While it was not my main goal it is something I am very proud of as it just shows all the years of blood, sweat and tears that went into it. Also the sacrifices I had to make reflect the daily hard work it takes to earn an award like this,” Donovan said. 

Casey Holm has been the coach for the Blugolds since the program started last year. He had lots of great things to say about Donovan.

“If you look at him as a soccer player, he is very technical. He has great feet,” Holm said. “He is also not just a great athlete but an exceptional student. He understands the game but in terms of student-athlete he has near-perfect grades.”

47 Division III soccer players across the country were awarded this honor, according to the United Soccer Coaches Association website. The All-Americans will be recognized at the ceremony on Jan. 14, 2023, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The athletes that achieve this award are voted on by coaches, which are split up by region as well as by how many votes each person got and how their team does overall.

Donovan started playing soccer at the age of four. His parents put him into soccer and as he grew older, he joined a club team. As he progressed and got even better, he joined a higher-level club that was an hour and a half away from his house.

Donovan said professional soccer player Landon Donovan was a big inspiration to him.

“He was always a big icon in American soccer, and I always loved watching him,” Donovan said. “Also, Jay DeMerit from Green Bay. He decided to play college soccer and always dreamt of going pro. He went through a lot of struggle and rejection, but then made the national team.”

In high school not only did Donovan play soccer, but he played basketball and football as well.

While looking at colleges Donovan knew he wanted to play soccer wherever he went to school.

Originally Donovan had not been looking at going to school at UW-Eau Claire; he had a friend who was being recruited to play here and once the coach saw him play, they wanted him. His older sister also went to school here.

“I really liked the coach and the idea of starting something new from the ground up and being the first one to set the culture,” Donovan said. “It’s insane to think that we went from nothing to making the tournament in two years, which is unheard of.”

Donovan’s favorite memory from being on the team was being able to compete in the NCAA tournament this past year.

This was the Blugolds’ first year in the tournament, and they won their first-round game versus Luther with a score of 3-1. Their next game was against Gustavus Adolphus College where they tied and then lost in a shootout of penalty kicks 3-4.

Overall the team had 19 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie this season according to Blugolds.com.

While Donovan has his individual goals, he said he is focused more on the team. The team is working towards winning a national championship which is his main goal.

According to Holm, Donovan is an amazing teammate. He brings the team up to a higher level which makes both the team and him better.

“I am just looking to get better and better every single day. If there is an opportunity out there to take my game to the next level, I would love to pursue it, but I am just taking it day by day. Trying to achieve things here by winning the national tournament,” Donovan said.

Not only is Donovan a part of the men’s soccer team, but he also takes part in some intramural sports as well as the pre-professional health club.

Some things Holm hopes incoming freshmen learn from Donovan is how to be an amazing teammate and leader. With that, making the most of the opportunities you have in whatever division you play in, and you get out what you put in.

“He is a great teammate, all the guys love him. They all want to follow and kind of do what he is doing,” Holm said. “His attention to detail and high level of questioning about what we are trying to do definitely makes him stand out against everybody else.”

“It is exciting to see what each year brings,” Holm said.

Geske can be reached at geskesi57[email protected]