How Donley Became Mr. Soccer | Local
If we were playing word association and I gave you the word Donley, the word you’d probably answer would be football.
The Madisonville North Hopkins High School football field is called Donley Field and each year the North Boys and Girls football programs host the Donley Classic.
Dr Jim Donley and his wife, Judy, have had their name associated with football for over 30 years, but how they became associated with football and not football or track and field is quite an interesting story.
Donley grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He was on the track and field and football teams at St. Charles High School in Columbus.
âOur defensive and offensive lines in high school introduced me and my two brothers,â Donley recalls. “At one point our line was bigger than the line Woody Hayes had played at Ohio State.”
Donley became a shot putter and would throw the discus at Ohio State. In this context, it is quite interesting that it becomes the name most associated with soccer in our community.
Football history begins when Jim and Judy Donley’s son Brian was in eighth grade and was on North’s football team.
âBrian came home one fucked up day and was talking about how terrible the condition of the football field was in North,â Donley said. âI watched it and chatted with two of my friends from Christ The King Church, Tex Taylor and Don Bowles. I realized we needed smoother terrain and dirt movement. I knew Tex and Don could pull some of the dirt out of the coal industry. They have been extremely generous in loaning their heavy equipment, trucks, and soil removal expertise and did so for free. “
Donley’s initial interest in the soccer field led to even more ambitious plans that led in part to the soccer field and sports complex you see today.
Donley eventually came up with the design of an improved soccer field, installing a softball field and working on a new track and soccer field.
âOne night Rusty Badgett called me and asked me to come over,â Donley said. “He indicated he had raced on the track in college and was ready to review my plans and commit $ 250,000 for the new track complex.”
The short story of this is that Donley’s plans were then presented to Brown Badgett who involved not only his brother Rusty but also his brother Roger in the complex and they spent over $ 1.5 million to help develop the complex and move the land.
âBrown Badgett’s involvement was the real key as he commanded a presence,â Donley said. “I got a call to come see Brown Badgett and I presented my plans to him.”
Donley had nothing but praise for the entire Badgett family, but particularly noted Brown’s generosity in the project.
âBrown got everyone involved and it wasn’t until a few years later that he did something very similar for South County at Hopkins Central High School,â Donley said.
Brown Badgett took interest and immediately summoned others he worked with, such as architect Jim Denton and engineer Oda Inglis, to get involved in the project.
Donley noted that the project involved a lot of people and a lot of community support, including Mayor OL Lantrip and Principal James Lee Stevens of North. Donley has fond memories of community involvement.
âI’m not sure if I can stress how the whole community and workers came together on this project,â Donley said. âThe workers themselves put their heart and soul into this project because many of their children were going to school there. I really didn’t know anything about football but wanted a better setup.
Donley was ultimately privileged to have the field named after him, but the best story about it involves his two other children, Erin and Sean, who were swimmers and not football players.
One day Erin Donley saw the sign at Donley Field and she was a little younger than her older brother Brian. Erin Donley reportedly said: âLook! They named the football field Brian! “
The truth is, the pitch in this case and the tournament honor the work Jim and Judy Donley have done on the football complex. Obviously Jim Donley was an orthopedic surgeon working in addition to his volunteer time at the sports complex and it could not have been done without Judy Donley’s work and attention to the needs of the family.
We are fortunate to have the soccer complex that we have today, not to mention the soccer and athletics facilities. Many people have made this possible through their generous voluntary and financial donations. However, the vision and volunteerism of Dr. Jim Donley are what allowed the project to start, maintain and bring it to fruition.
Yes, Dr Donley’s name is associated with football, but he’s also more involved in athletics and football than you sometimes think.