Today is

» Articles

Landon Had to Raise His Grades to Rise to Stardom
April 2002

By Rochelle DelGaizo Billera

The CollegeBound Network NewsClick -- Talk about shake, rattle, and roll... there's never been a California earthquake quite like soccer's Landon Donovan of the San Jose Earthquakes. The 20-year-old forward has been shaking things up since his explosion onto the Major League Soccer (MLS) scene less than three years ago.

Although his raw athletic talent was evident early on, it took Landon a bit longer to develop his scholastic prowess. And his mother, who always stressed education first, "wouldn't let me play soccer when I was rambunctious as a kid," Landon recalls.

That's why in high school, Landon had one goal in mind: "Straightening out to get good grades so I could play." His athletic enthusiasm, along with his inspirational mom and no-nonsense-grades-first soccer coach, kept him academically motivated enough to earn a 3.7 GPA. "My high school soccer career was very instrumental in helping me to become a better player," he says.

Landon placed fourth in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and made an instant impact on the Earthquakes when he was named MVP of the 2001 All-Star game for scoring four goals. And, his earth-shattering talent just landed him a $400,000 contract to play the game he absolutely loves. "It's truly a dream come true," says Landon.

It was the academic exposure, however, that helped Landon reach his dream. He was drafted right out of high school, foregoing a four-year college scholarship. Landon says it was a tough decision, but after kicking it around for a while, he opted for the pros. Of course, he did have one condition: "My mom had the agents put aside a separate college fund for me, so finances wouldn't be a concern if I later decide to go to school."

Even now, with fame and fortune under his belt, the fund is still there, Landon assures. After all, the scholastic scene is important to him, and it's likely he'll pursue a degree in the future. "College is never out of the realm of possibilities," he says. "I keep that [academic stimulation] going as much as possible by reading a lot and trying to become more intellectual." As for all you would-be collegiate student-athletes, Landon advises you to "stick with school."

Just think about it: Anybody can become a rich sports figure, but how many can boast about having a degree as an added career bonus?

» Back to Articles.