Feature photo courtesy of Roseann Donaldson
While his play on the field has gotten James Donaldson recognition, it is his character that sets him apart.
The Michigan native and Brother Rice High School sophomore defenseman first received recognition after playing for his club team, Juiced Cherries, in last fall’s Autumn Gold Tournament at Towson University.
Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne was impressed by what he saw at this collegiate recruiting showcase. The first-time Donaldson and Warne met, the Hoyas coach posed an interesting question.
“What’s your why?” Warne asked.
Donaldson immediately knew what to say, not as if he was prepared to hear this question, but because he knew why he was determined to play college lacrosse.
“Setting the bar high for my two younger brothers,” Donaldson said in response to Warne. “I wanted them to know they can reach their goals and anything is possible with a little effort and hard work.”
With two younger brothers, who are 12 and 14 years old, Donaldson, 16, is driven to become better both on and off the field by setting a good example for them, he said.
Juiced Cherries coach Jake Kenney also noticed this attitude, describing it as a constant positive source of energy.
“It’s not a put-on,” Kenney said. “Sometimes you think these kids are giving you one thing, but it’s really the other. That’s just the way he’s wired. He’s wired to have a tremendous work ethic.”
Donaldson’s work ethic is not just constrained to the lacrosse field, however. His work ethic in the classroom has him enrolled in multiple AP courses as a sophomore. Getting good grades in those while also being involved in extracurricular activities like the business club with friend and fellow defenseman Jack Crosby is an added bonus.
Good grades and school involvement translated to Donaldson’s top three schools in the recruiting process — Georgetown, Princeton, and Notre Dame — where he had good relationships with all the coaches.
“A lot of times club coaches are on the phone with college coaches telling them how good of a person this recruit is,” Kenney said. “But I would often get calls back telling me that I was right, he is a great person and how they just had a great conversation with him.”
It was Georgetown that stood out the most, Donaldson said.
“It’s not just about the talent or grades but also about the personality,” said Donaldson. “(Coach Warne) cares about the person next to you.”
When given the opportunity to impress further at Georgetown’s Prospect Day in January, Donaldson spoke of his interaction with current players whether it was a simple hello or good luck before he took the field.
“It was very motivating,” Donaldson said. “It just makes you feel all that more comfortable in an environment that can be very nerve-racking.”
Donaldson’s team won all its games and he played well enough to receive an offer from Georgetown.
His verbal commitment to the Hoyas pushes their 2019 recruiting class to eight in total. In Donaldson, Coach Warne gets an self-driven leader on defense.
Donaldson makes his presence known with consistently aggressive defense, getting in the gloves of opposing attackmen. His communication and leadership on the defensive end allows for good defensive chemistry, especially at the club level where players do not get a chance to practice a lot together like on high school teams, Kenney said. His football background gives him an edge when guarding attacking players.
“As a former attackman and midfielder, I can respect his aggressive on-ball defense.” Kenney said. “You can see attackman really don’t want the ball when he’s guarding them.”
This type of defense will only bolster a Georgetown defense that sits fourth in the Big East in goals given up per game at 10.8.
Setting the bar high for his two younger brothers drove Donaldson to his dream of playing collegiate lacrosse, and he hopes his brothers follow in his footsteps by following their dreams as well.