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Bradley’s Golden Jaguar: Yohance Douglas

Yohance Douglas against Mercer. Photo via Yohance Douglas/Instagram

Often the biggest accomplishment for any young soccer player is getting the chance to represent their country on the international stage. It’s a goal that many envision, but few have the opportunity to execute.

Bradley soccer sophomore Yohance Douglas has made that vision a reality.

Hunting with Red Foxes

After starting his collegiate career at Marist College with only a handful of appearances, Douglas entered the portal looking for a clearer path. Wanting more minutes on the Division I pitch, not everyone held the same sentiment with Douglas’ ambition to remain a D-1 athlete. 

“Local coaches from back home told me after I transferred that I wasn’t going to find another [D-1] school and that I should drop down a bit and put my pride aside,” Douglas said. “But I knew my potential and my ability to play soccer.” 

Whether it was pride or ambition, Douglas made it very clear that dropping his level was not an option.

At first, not many teams came knocking at his door. Until one day, a call from his mentor introduced the Ossining, New York native to Peoria, Illinois. 

918 miles away

After losing multiple seniors and players to the portal, Braves head coach Jim DeRose was looking for players who could rejuvenate his program and add some attacking power to their offensive line, which it had lost over the years. 

“Every program likes certain skill sets, we were looking for some dynamic attacking players off the dribble and playing in wide spots,” DeRose said. “The skills that Yohance [Douglas] provides is that ability to beat people off the dribble and speed.”

As the world of college athletic recruiting continues to evolve, the traditional exercise of digging deep into the old contact list remains a reliable tool. Bradley assistant coach Tim Regan is no stranger to that.

“Coach Regan was really the guy that really put me on to Bradley and explained the culture here,” Douglas said. “My mentor was instrumental as well and also my parents played a big role.” 

The Golden Jaguar 

With a new start in mind and ready to earn his minutes on the pitch, Douglas got back to work with the Braves during their summer training camp. It was during one of the many hot and humid training sessions in Peoria that Douglas received a call that many only dream of. 

“It was a surreal experience, I never expected it,” Douglas said. “I opened my phone and I saw the message from [Guyana head coach Jamaal Shabazz] and I was like ‘wow this is crazy.’”

Two days later, Douglas was on a plane to West Palm Beach to train with the senior Guyana national team in their Concacaf Gold Cup training camp. 

“It really opens your eyes to the level of play outside of American soccer and how good these guys are,” Douglas said. “They taught me the little things like not getting distracted off the field and just focusing on soccer.” 

What started as a one-off training camp with the best Guyana has to offer in soccer turned into a call-up for a friendly match against Ethiopia two weeks later. 

As the Golden Jaguars took on Ethiopia, players from all over the world were called to represent their countries in a friendly match in Leesburg, Virginia. Down by two, the newcomer to Bradley got his chance to shine in the 81st minute by making his senior international debut. 

“When I stepped on the field I was so locked in I felt like I was a pro and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” Douglas said. “I felt like I belonged and I didn’t feel out of place.” 

With only a handful of Bradley soccer alums reaching the level required to represent their country, Douglas is in a league of his own.  

“Fingers crossed, you’re going to see Yohance [Douglas] play in World Cup qualifiers, games that can qualify your country for a World Cup no matter how small it is,” DeRose said. 

Bringing Guyana flair to the Hilltop

Bradley soccer is having one of their best starts to a season in recent memory, as they are still undefeated. With four wins and two draws, Bradley is looking like a real contender to reach the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in November and make a deep run. 

“First and foremost I just want to help the team keep winning and make an impact,” Douglas said. “Obviously the biggest goal is the MVC championship but it’s one game at a time.” 

Looking sharper each minute he’s on the pitch, it is only a matter of time until Douglas brings some of his Guyana flair to the Hilltop.

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