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A Veteran Soccer Player

October 1, 2013

A Veteran Soccer Player

By Valery Jorgensen ’15

PLU’s men’s soccer team gained a veteran player this season—in every sense of the word.

Jeremy Dornbusch ’15, a transfer student with sophomore standing, is a war veteran and a seasoned soccer player. In his eight year active-duty career with the U.S. Army, he has been deployed three times: once for 13 months in Iraq, and again for 15-and 12-month stints in Afghanistan. Dornbusch recently moved from Hawaii, where he was stationed for active duty, to the Army Reserves in Tacoma—and to Pacific Lutheran University.

“Transition-wise, it is a huge change,” Dornbusch said. “Eight years of being told what to do and how to do it and always having a plan, and now I can do what I want, when I want, and that’s been a huge adjustment for me.”

Dornbusch, originally from Florida, served as an E5 sergeant squad leader and worked in infantry on the front lines—the first ones into the fight. That kind of exertion adds about three years of age for each deployment, Dornbusch said. And while most infantry veterans move on to police, correctional or border-patrol work, Dornbusch didn’t want to follow that career path.

“School is important for future employment, and you can’t stay in infantry forever,” he said.

So now Dornbusch is majoring in pre-physical therapy, with plans to work in sports therapy and earn a doctorate in radiology. Having previously attended American Military University online and Truett- McConnell College in Georgia, Dornbusch discovered PLU with the help of an Army friend, Andy Hyres ’09, a four-year PLU soccer player.

The two met in Hawaii and played on the All-Army Soccer Team and on the U.S. Military World Cup team. Hyres knew Dornbusch was looking to get out of active duty, return to school and play soccer.

“PLU was the first thing that popped in my mind,” Hyres said. “I told him he would find a home here.”

And he has: Dornbusch now lives in an apartment-style dorm with three roommates in South Hall.

“It’s very different living back in a dorm room, but I have lived in smaller and worse conditions while deployed, so being here is no different,” Dornbusch said. “It’s just adapting to your surroundings.”

Dornbusch, who’s played soccer for more than 22 years, began preseason practice at PLU in mid-August. At 29, he’s already assumed the role of a leader on the team.

“My experience in soccer and the real world, it kind of puts me at that leadership spot, but it’s not bad, and I don’t mind it,” Dornbusch said. “I want the guys to be able to come and talk to me and be that leader for them.”

He was expected to start for the Lutes as striker or outside midfielder this year but suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice and will medical red-shirt this season. Dornbusch had surgery to repair his ACL in September.

“It’s going to be hard for me to sit on the sidelines, but I feel confident in the season, and I think the guys are going to go far,” Dornbusch said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the Northwest Conference championship.”

In the meantime, Dornbusch attends practices and games with his team and plans to help out with coaching. He’s also looking ahead to rehab on his knee—and beyond.

“I’ll get through it and be back,” Dornbusch said.