Do you have a dream that you’ve put aside for one reason or another? Do you find yourself thinking about that dream from time to time? Do you say to yourself, “I’m too old now?” Well, we have a story that might be just the inspiration you need.
The average 40-year-old is often found on a couch watching their favorite sport, not playing it on a competitive level. Steve Donahue is the exception.
Donahue has always had a passion for football. In high school, he played tight end at Hanover Park up until he graduated in 1994. Although he was undersized, he should have never been underestimated. Donahue could run a forty yard dash in 4.5 seconds, making him nearly impossible to tackle. There was no doubt that he was talented, but there was always something missing. His biggest set back on the field, in the classroom and in life was that he never had a mentor to guide him. Donahue didn’t have it easy, but that never crushed his spirits. He had the drive to succeed, no matter what it took. Even if it meant that he had to ride his bike to and from double session practice through the summer.
When he was younger, Donahue felt that he knew hardly anything about college football. Although he wanted to play college football he didn’t have a clue how one would go about that. “Back then I couldn’t tell you the difference between Division I or Division III programs and could not differentiate colleges in terms of who had better programs,” Donahue recalled. Without much direction, Donahue didn’t go on to by football in college, he chose a different path.
Currently, Donahue works as a personal trainer at Florham Park Fitness. As a trainer, he works with people of all ages. He specifically works with young people and high school athletes. While Donahue grew up without a mentor and not much direction in many aspects of life, he hopes to provide the guidance to these athletes that he didn’t receive. He wants to serve as a person who can guide these young people and train them in a way that is beneficial to their body.
Donahue never gave up on his passion for football. After the college years came and went, Donahue still had that burning desire to play. So he found a local semi-professional team and tried out. He made the team and never stopped playing ever since.
“As long as I can physically do it, I’m going to do it,” says Donahue. That kind of mentality has enabled Donahue to keep pushing himself despite encountering set backs. When Donahue was twenty three years old he tore his ACL. Instead of letting his knee heal properly, he was back on the football field in just six months. His rushed recovery did not allow him to regain full strength in his knee. Donahue claimed he was a “know-it-all”, and because of that he experiences knee pain after his games, but it still will not stop him from playing.
As a minor league football player, Donahue notes that the average age of the players is around twenty six. At his age, Donahue provides the veteran leadership that his team needs. Through his time as a minor league player, he recounts that there has always been a strong imbalance in age and talent of players. There are some players that come right from high school while some are grown adults. There are some players who are talented to that of NFL caliber, while some play at a much lower level. With such a range of skill level among the teams, many players of get noticed by scouts. Making the minor football league can be a stepping stone to more competitive levels.
In his time in the minor football league, Donahue has pretty much seen it all. He notes that many of the teams don’t have team buses and that all the players have to find their own transportation to the games. He also explained that although at some points a team could be playing on a turf field in a beautiful facility , there are other times where his team would have to change into their uniform right on the field behind a towel. Donahue has most certainly seen a wide array of atmospheres which all contribute to his love of the game that continues to grow each time he is on the field.
At the moment, Donahue does not foresee an end in his football career. When asked if he would consider coaching and potentially hang up his cleats, Donahue was not particularly sure whether or not he would take that path. “I can coach and practically do in a way for some of the younger guys I play with today. They respect me because I have played for so long. Perhaps I will be a coach at some point. But as long as I can physically do it, I am going to play this game because I just love it.”
If you ever meet Steve Donahue, the first thing you will notice is his contagious smile and engaging personality. There is no denying the fact that he is genuinely happy. There are so many people who have put their passions on hold. Or think following their dreams is silly because of their age or some other fear or excuse. Instead they dread their daily two hour commute into the city, or sit in a boring cubical all day, or work at some job they hate while somebody else gets rich off them. For those people, perhaps Donahue’s story will inspire them to dust off that dream and get back to doing what makes them the happiest.