Despite being sidelined during his junior year with a back injury, Franklin and Marshall commit Jarrett Donaghy ’16 is back and ready to win again.
According to 3D Lacrosse Report, senior Jarrett Donaghy is 5 foot 7 and weighs 150 pounds who is a “ground ball and transition machine.” He plays tremendous on-ball defense.
“He’s just a real competitive kid who brings his ‘A’ game every time he steps onto the field,” varsity lacrosse coach Mr. John McEvoy said. “He just plays hard all the time. In practice, he just takes every drill we do seriously; he is probably that way in life too.”
Jarrett is the starting defensive midfielder and a captain, along with seniors Adam Goldner and Kyle Anderson.
“He plays short stick defensive midfield,” McEvoy said. “That’s a role where offenses try to pick on guys like him. They are constantly coming after you.”
Playing short-stick defensive midfield is one of the toughest positions in lacrosse, and McEvoy looks for a particular set of skills in players.
“The criteria we look for are competitiveness and athleticism, with an attitude of ‘I will not get beat,’ and he definitely has that,” he said.
Jarrett committed to the University of Franklin and Marshall during January of his junior year. Everything seemed to be going extremely well, but just a few short months after his commitment, Jarrett suffered two stress fractures on his spine.
It ultimately ended his season.
After complaining about back pain after the first game of the year, McEvoy shut him down for about three weeks, and asked him to go see a doctor. That’s when he heard the news.
“I went to the doctor and he said I had two stress fractures in my L3 and two stress fractures in my L5,” Jarrett said. “He said that I would be done for the year, I would be in a brace for three months, and go to physical therapy for three months.”
The injury has been building up his whole life, and during the first week of lacrosse practice last year, it finally caught up to him.
“My brother and I were both born with stress fractures on our L5’s,” Donaghy said. “Doctors think that’s what contributed to so much stress on my L4, which ended up giving way to two stress fractures on my L3.”
The stress fractures on his L3 were a result of years of wear and tear on his spine. Multiple years of playing lacrosse, basketball and other sports wore the L3 down, which was already under extreme stress. One particular play acted as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I have been playing with a stress fracture on my L5 my whole life, so the ‘discomfort’ feels normal to me,” Donaghy said. “When I wake up, I can usually feel it, but I wear a brace when I go to bed and do other things to try to cope with it.”
Jarrett describes the pain as someone constantly jabbing him in the back.
“I couldn’t even put my shoes on in the morning. I had to move around it, because if I tried to do anything with it, it would hurt even more,” he said.
Jarrett started physical therapy immediately and kept it up for three months.
One of the key problems for his back trouble was the tightness in his hamstrings and his glutes. Both muscles are connected to the back, and they were so tight they were pulling down on his back.
“There is a lot of basic stuff [during physical therapy],” Jarrett said. “There were these stupid stretches that I really hated doing, but it ended up making me a lot more flexible.”
The injury did not just hurt him physically. “It felt like something that you loved was taken away from you in a matter of a week,” Donaghy said.
“There were times where I would just go home and not feel like doing anything at all,” Jarrett said. “I would see my friends just having a catch, and since I was not allowed to be involved in physical activity, not being able to join in just stunk.”
However, there was some good that came out of one of Jarrett’s low points at Malvern. Throughout this whole time, the Head Coach of Franklin and Marshall offered his support and said that this would not affect his recruitment.
With more time on his hands, Jarrett’s grades also increased.
“Since I was hurt, I took out all my frustration in the classroom and tried to get Distinguished Honors,” Jarrett said.
Lacrosse has been a part of Jarrett’s life ever since he was a little kid, and he took a strong liking to it from the moment he first learned about it.
“I was playing lacrosse ever since I was in first grade,” Jarrett said. “I played it gym class one day and I just instantly fell in love with it.”
Jarrett loves the competitiveness the sport provides and also credits his coaches for making the game fun.
“Lacrosse has a competitive aspect that whatever you are doing, you are competing with everyone around you. Coach McEvoy helped make the game fun with his personality and drive for the game, which all of us can really relate to,” Donaghy said.
Next year, Jarrett will be playing Division III lacrosse for Franklin and Marshall University. But, playing college lacrosse was never really on his mind until he entered Malvern.
“College was not on my mind at first. It didn’t really creep into my mind until I got to Malvern and realized how big lacrosse is here and how playing college was more realistic,” Donaghy said.
The idea became a reality after Jarrett performed well at a recruiting camp at Villanova University just after coming off an undefeated sophomore season.
“The Franklin and Marshall assistant coach was coaching one of the teams we were playing against,” Donaghy said. “He liked me and emailed me. I ended up going up there and visited, and I also stayed over night one time.”
After he stayed overnight, that’s when he knew that he wanted to go to Franklin and Marshall University. Ultimately, along with wanting to play college lacrosse, he liked the location of the school and wanted to stay close to home.
Another place of comfort to him was his parents. “They would text me while I was at school making sure that everything was okay. Once I saw that, it would cheer me up,” Jarrett said.
Even though Jarrett was not playing, the coaches still made him feel a part of the team by giving him little jobs during practices and games.
“Coach McEvoy gave me the job of keeping track of ground balls so I could stay in tune with the game,” Jarrett said jokingly, “but a lot of times I would be so focused on the game, I would forget to do that.”
After coming off an undefeated year leading into last year, the absence of Jarrett among other key players greatly affected the team.
“Not having him last year probably hurt us more than we realized,” McEvoy said. “Not only is he athletic and cerebral, but he has a little bit of playmaker in him.”
The team is excited to have Jarrett back for his final season at Malvern Prep.
“It was rough not being able to see him play last year,” teammate Mike Fay ’17 said. Jarrett and Mike are childhood friends, and have played lacrosse with each other for a long time.
“I know that he will make it up this year with his playing. He will play a huge role in the success of our team this year,” Fay said.
Today, Jarrett is almost all healed, mostly pain free, but most importantly: ready to play.
“It doesn’t hurt when I play anymore,” Jarrett said with a smile.
Outside out of athletics, however, Jarrett loves the fabric of Malvern and will always think of Warren Avenue as his second home.
“I love the relationships I have been able to build with not only my classmates, but also the people you wouldn’t normally have a conversation with,” Jarrett said.