Even if soccer isn’t your sport, you may have heard the name Jay DeMerit.
Recently retired from the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Jay’s career is nothing but unique and inspiring. In fact, a documentary was made about his unique rise from obscurity to fame: Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story.
When asked about his sizable accomplishments and world acclaim, Jay scoffs: “I was very fortunate to be that guy. Now I can help other people to do that as well.”
As comfortable in his skin off the field as he is on the field, Jay has a very busy year ahead as a retiree. But then again, he is only 34. As one of the speakers at the upcoming TEDx Vancouver, Jay says: “This will definitely be a new experience, but one that I am excited about.”
We found out what else got him pumped:
Now that you’ve finished with the Whitecaps, do you have plans to return to the States?
The plan is to stay in Canada. My wife was born in Whistler. BC is a wonderful place to live and hopefully a wonderful place to raise a family one day. Vancouver has been home on a soccer level, a professional level and a life level.
So the plans are to read a lot of novels and catch up on Netflix?
I retired and I am busier than I have ever been! That’s a good thing. I moved into a club ambassador role for the Whitecaps. I do a lot of appearances. I show up at the Skills Camp that we run all over BC and talk to the kids. I get people excited about soccer. I’m out and about trying to make sure that I’m doing the best I can to raise the Whitecaps profile, but also soccer’s profile in BC. We’re still very much in the growing phase. If I can be a part of that and help that, then I’m doing my job.
Were you thrilled that the response to the World Cup in Canada this year seemed to be bigger than ever?
Very much so. You can see how soccer is taking shape in Canada, both on the men’s and on the women’s side. There’s nothing better than playing in a World Cup or premier league against the best teams in the world. These are things that you want as an athlete. I am very fortunate to have experienced that. I’ll miss competing, but thankfully I have been able to do that. I’m okay with the fact that I can’t do it “anymore”. Now I can go to inspire others to go and try that themselves.
You had some injuries that you were dealing with this year. Do you find that there is a lesson in every injury?
As a sportsman, you get injured. It is just a reality of what we do. The first step is accepting that. Secondly, it’s dealing with it the best that you can. I’m very fortunate that the serious injuries I’ve had came at the end of my career. As you get older in your career, you learn how to listen to your body. You know what you can do and what you’re capable of.
In my heart of hearts, I knew after my ruptured Achilles last year and another tendon in the same ankle that it wasn’t going to get to the level that I needed it to get to in order to perform at the level that I knew that I had to. That’s a hard conversation that you have to have with yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re making the wrong decision. Even if it means retiring. For me it was the right call. If I wanted to hold on, I could have. I had a contract until the end of the year. That’s not me. I’m either all in or I’m all out.
Was it weird having a film made of you at the prime of your career?
Initially it was. I had just finished the World Cup. It’s the journey of how I got there. My story is a cult story in the soccer world. The producers convinced me of that because I was wondering, “Aren’t documentaries for when your career is over?” At the end of it all, I will have documentation of my story. It became a beast of its own.
It raised over a quarter of a million dollars on the Kickstarter campaign. That’s very humbling. The community bound together and pushed for it. Passion is a huge part of what soccer is. The relationship between the fans, the players and the club is what makes soccer special.
Sounds like you have a long story for a short TED Talk.
You only have 18 minutes to tell a very long story. I’m hoping they can help me dial it in!
You can follow Jay’s Twitter account where he describes himself as a “Life addict. Dream chaser.”
Or, you know, you can watch his documentary on iTunes.
Jay takes the stage at TEDx Vancouver this month. Don’t miss it.