North Texas Daily

Dominique James: Decorated senior utilizes speed for success

Dominique James: Decorated senior utilizes speed for success

Dominique James: Decorated senior utilizes speed for success
November 05
17:10 2019

There aren’t many as straightforward as senior defender Dominique James. With North Texas’ final regular-season game taking place on Friday, Nov. 1 and the Conference USA Championships soon after, this fall will conclude James’ decorated career with the Mean Green.

“It’s bittersweet,” James said. “I’m ready for the next stage of my life but it’s kind of sad not being able to play with my teammates and be here for four years where you kind of just don’t really have many responsibilities. It’s a little scary going into the real world but man, it’s been really fun and enjoyable.”

Last season, James became the first Mean Green soccer player to ever be named an All-American. She is also the reigning Conference MVP (‘18) and two-time Defensive Player of the Year (‘17, ‘18). James was named Defensive Player of the Week six times since 2018 and has helped win three Conference titles (‘16, ‘17, ‘18). James elaborated on her desire to move on after her senior year and transition to a new season of life. She alluded to how over time the amount of attrition from playing soccer can be a lot on a player like her who has experienced ACL tears in both knees during high school.

“I mean, to be honest, I’m tired,” James said. “So I’m excited and kind of ready for it to be over. I’m tired of running, it’s been fun but after having surgeries on my knees the pain has caught up so it’s kind of a struggle for me now just to get through it. I’m having fun with the games and everything but I’m kind of just ready to be a normal person.”

Collegiate athletic programs typically recruit during players’ junior year in high school. Unfortunately for James, she suffered her ACL tears during her junior year which diminished her chance to play club soccer. This resulted in her not receiving any offers outside of North Texas. When it comes to recruiting, head coach John Hedlund talked about how they strictly recruit from club soccer rather than recruit from high schools.  It wasn’t until he received a heads up from a fellow coach who told him to go to one of James’ high school games that he discovered the future All-American. Hedlund immediately knew what he had in James and elected to sign her after witnessing how she exhibited her speed on the soccer field. Hedlund offered her a scholarship with the intention of converting her into a true center back despite James playing as an outside back in high school.

“Speed is something you can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t and [James] has it times two,” Hedlund said. “That’s what gives every conference team fits and that’s why she continues to win these awards and that’s why she’s an All-American. It’s the speed.”

James’ presence on defense has helped amplify their ability to maintain a robust defense that’s tallied 21 shut outs since 2018. She’s also known for being one of the primary sources of leadership on and off the field.

“[James] is such a huge asset to our team, especially to our backline,” senior defender Natalie Newell said. “She’s a great leader and her presence is very known on the field and so I think that spreads to the rest of the team especially underclassmen.”

James’ overall resume warrants questions about whether or not she could go pro but the Fort Worth, Texas native was adamant about hanging her cleats up for good at the conclusion of her senior year. In her eyes, pursuing a pro career in soccer isn’t the best financial decision. James will be graduating with a degree in logistics and supply chain management and has accepted a position with the BNSF Railway as a corporate management trainee for a transportation management position.

While many student-athletes view playing sports at the collegiate level as a means towards a professional career, James sees it differently. She sees her tenure spent with North Texas as strictly a means to get an education. Although James values the relationships and moments she has made with her coaches and teammates, coming to North Texas to play soccer meant a free education for the senior center back.

“Free school,” James said. “When [Hedlund] offered me it was really surprising but I was excited about it. I’ve always been a competitive person so whenever I do something I don’t like to sit the bench so I’m going to do whatever I need to make sure I’m on the field.”

All in all, when it comes to James, her passion does not stem from a love for soccer, it comes from the desire to strive for greatness in anything she works towards. It just so happens that for James, it was the game of soccer mixed with her competitiveness and drive to be great garnered her the accolades she has now.

“I’m not super passionate about sports,” James said. “I mean I have fun with it but it’s just that I do the best that I can and if I’m successful at it then I’m successful at it. This is going to sound very arrogant but when I was younger I was always faster than most kids and I was always better than a lot of people at school. So being successful here wasn’t new to me. I grew up with a lot of trophies in my house because everyone was always working hard so now it’s just more accolades to add.”

Featured Image: Senior defense Dominique James kicks the ball back into play during the Mean Green’s game against Marshall on Oct. 20, 2019. Image by Grace Davis

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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