PHS senior shares his story as a newly signed professional soccer player

PHS Senior Tomas Dovidaitis, pictured with his father Marius Dovidaitis, signs his first professional soccer contract in Ukraine, announcing it on Instagram on February 8.

Monika Jurevicius, Sports Editor

With sports being shut down everywhere around the world, especially in the states, many students lost the opportunity to be scouted or recruited for a sports team. However, Palatine High School senior Tomas Dovidaitis received both those opportunities, setting an ambitious path into his future.

Dovidaitis has started his career in professional soccer with “Olimpik Donetsk” soccer club in Ukraine. Having played soccer since age four, he knew that this was the only path he wanted to take. 

“I began my passion, my love, and my development for soccer with Sockers FC,” Dovidaitis said. From the age of nine to 17, he played for Palatine soccer club “Sockers FC” until he left for Europe at the end of 2020. 

During his time with the club, Dovidaitis learned life skills like being a team player and creating lasting relationships  in and outside of sports. In his freshman year of high school, Dovidaitis played on several of PHS’s boys soccer teams (Freshman B to Varsity), when he was struggling that year with his club. He brought his skills over to the school, where he only played for one season.

“Being part of something bigger than yourself, I think is one of the most important things you can learn in your life,” Dovidaitis said. “I can’t describe the joy you could feel scoring a goal or going to a tournament and you know you’re doing something big for your team. It’s all out of the love for the sport you play.”

Dovidaitis’s success didn’t all come from pure luck and training. The mental portion of the game had to be supported by the help of his family and friends, especially the times when he felt useless when he was injured. When leaving for Ukraine, Dovidaitis still had a broken wrist while playing soccer.

“I would be so strong mentally, I would always have myself in-check, but I was a mess and all over the place,” Dovidaitis said. “It’s crazy to think about how an injury can change the whole entire course of your life.”

After many months of cancellations to Slovakia and Lithuania (Dovidaitis’s home country) due to COVID-19, he was finally able to fly to Kiev to try out for his new team, “Olimpik Donetsk.” Out of 102 athletes who tried out, he is one of seven who has a spot on the team. He entered as a striker and forward. 

“When I was younger, I never thought that I had the opportunity to [play] Division One for college,” Dovidaitis said. “I never thought that I’d even have the possibility to go pro. Now that it’s here, it’s why I thank God for every single day.”

Living in Europe has not been the easiest for Dovidaitis, though, because he is thousands of miles away from the people he knows. School is extremely hard for the high school senior, but being able to communicate fluently in three languages (English, Russian, and Lithuanian) all help him with everyday life.

“I think knowing the [russian] language and being trilingual has helped me so much more than I could have ever possibly imagined.” Dovidaitis said. 

Dovidaitis hopes to help people with his story. That a simple change to diet, exercise, knowledge, and more can help you, as it did for him.

“I want to motivate someone else to join a team, learn a new language, take yourself to the next step,” Dovidaitis said. “If they could look at my story, and as hard as it is [for them], having hope and reassuring yourself and knowing that one day you’ll come out on top, I think that’s amazing.”