Profile: Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit has one of the most unique stories the world of soccer has ever seen. After graduating from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design and playing NCAA Div 1 soccer, Jay went undrafted into the pros as the soccer world told him he wasn’t good enough. With nothing but a backpack and his dream, Jay set off to make it in England. After sleeping on attic floors in London and making 60$ a game, he rose to the top division in the UK and scored the goal that brought Watford FC into the Premier League. He would go on to be the first American Captain for the club and also represent the US Men’s National Team for 5 years, winning the CONCACAF GOLD CUP (2007), Confederations Cup Final (2nd) and playing every minute of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

After the World Cup in 2010, Jay went on to be the inaugural signing of the Vancouver Whitecaps as they entered into Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2011. He captained the Whitecaps for their first 4 seasons and retired in 2015.

After retiring from the game, Jay started the RISExSHINE Charity Foundation and a youth development program for GenZ called Captains Camps. This holistic leadership program is focused on helping teens to develop into well rounded individuals through mentorship, nutrition, skillset, and mental performance training. He is also developing a youth empowerment app with EA Games that gamifies learning for the next generation.   

Off the field, Jay has taken the stage at Tedx Vancouver , spoken at a wide variety of national conferences, and has even been the keynote speaker on “Grit” at the US Soccer Federation’s annual symposium.  His story was the subject of “Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story” a documentary released in 2011 after a successful Kickstarter campaign where the passionate soccer community raised $223,000 to turn this important story into a feature film.