CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate Donna-Kay Henry (Jamaica Village, N.Y.) will fulfill her dream of playing professional soccer after signing to play for the FC Neunkirch in Switzerland.
"She's been working for this for years," UTC Head Coach J.D. Kyzer said of his star striker. "It's a dream a lot of people have, but few get to make happen."
Henry, Chattanooga's only four-time All-Conference soccer player, will depart her hometown of New York for Switzerland on Thursday joining longtime friend Nicole McClure on the team. McClure a former goal keeper with the University of South Florida was instrumental in helping Henry get noticed.
"I saw Nicole when I went home to New York and told her that I was trying to continue playing and she said she'd let me know if anything came up with her team, the FC Neunkirch," Henry said. "A few weeks later she said her coach was looking for more players and he contacted me via email."
After exchanging paperwork and answering a few questions, Henry was offered a spot on the team.
She was born in Jamaica and moved to New York when she was seven. She has dual citizenship with the United States and Jamaica, an independent country with Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II serving as the Jamaican monarch. With that in mind she has bigger goals than just playing professionally, however.
"I hope this gives me an opportunity to play and showcase my talent," she said. "I want to continue to get better and be able to play for the National team, either the U.S. or Great Britain.
"Being so far away from home will be a bit difficult since I've never been anywhere except the U.S. and Jamaica. I don't know what to expect, but I'm excited to go."
"Playing overseas can open doors for her everywhere," Kyzer said. "Others countries are more supportive of soccer. For them soccer is pretty much a way of life."
Upon her arrival at Chattanooga, her speed and ball handling abilities quickly set the Southern Conference on its ear. She finished her career second all-time at UTC for points (78), goals (31), assists (16) and shots attempted (213). She drew many fouls as opponents, unable to keep up, would take her down on the way towards the goal.
As a sophomore, she scored a school-record four goals against USC Upstate for a school-record eight points in a single game in the Gardner-Webb Border Classic. In her senior year she was named that tournament's MVP. She had a hat trick in her junior season with three goals against Georgia Southern and scored two goals against Elon that same year.
"Playing UTC taught me that I have a role," Henry said. "I was the go-to person, the person they looked to to score goals and I was the person they looked to to pump them up if we were down five goals. It's kept me going and pushed me harder every game."
Henry earned a spot on the UTC Dean's List and Athletics Director's Honor Roll as well as the Southern Conference All-Academic Team. She graduated in December with a degree in Health and Human Performance and is employed by Exceed Physical Fitness.
She will depart Thursday for Switzerland to begin training to play with her new team.