Tivoli's Smith juggling ball, books
Former national youth football representative and Tivoli Gardens midfielder, Dawyne 'Ricky' Smith, is juggling ball and books admirably.
Smith graduated from Bethel University in Tennessee, United States in 2012 with a double Master Degree in Business and Computer Information System.
Now, he is planning to tackle a doctorate without giving up football.
Smith graduated with honours as the top business student in the All-Conference academics, as well as top student-athlete in his four years at Bethel. He was also on the Dean's List, maintaining a 3.7 GP average during both courses.
In football, during 77 appearances he finished with 46 goals and 39 assists and was named to the Third Team All-American in 2011.
In January 2012, Smith was picked third overall in the 2012 United States Major League Soccer (MLS) Supplemental Draft by the New England Revolution. However, he was cut from camp prior to the start of the season.
Following his release, Smith joined USL club Pittsburgh Riverhounds. On May 18, 2012, he made his debut and scored his first professional goal in a 1-1 draw against Richmond Kickers.
Seattle Sounders FC picked up Smith's MLS rights in the 2012 MLS Waiver Draft on June 6, 2012. He returned to Jamaica last summer after a short stint at NJ-LUSO Rangers FC.
Now, Smith has moved to Tivoli Gardens FC's Premier League outfit and is making his mark in midfield.
"I selected Tivoli Gardens because they are a team that fits my style of play," Smith told The Gleaner following his team's 3-1 penalty shoot-out victory against Boys' Town FC in the KSAFA/Jamaica Yellow Pages Jackie Bell KO semi-final last Sunday night at Stadium East.
Tivoli advanced to the final and will meet August Town on March 5 at Waterhouse Stadium, starting at 5 p.m. August Town edged Harbour View 1-0 in the second semi-final.
However, the West Kingston-based club is currently eighth in the Red Stripe Premier League, with 22 points from 18 games. Harbour View lead on 37 points.
"Every team goes through tumultuous times; things are evidently not going well for us," shared Smith. "We have adjusted a bit and it is a work in progress.
"The win against Boys' Town could be the turning point for us as we are struggling in the League. It was a spirited performance. Our hope is to be in the top four at the end of the preliminary rounds, as all the other 11 teams want to be," he said.
Smith disclosed that he has gained respect from his teammates, officials and supporters because of how he deals with others.
"I want to represent Jamaica and have been balancing academics and football. It is my hope and if the need arises, to represent Jamaica and get to the next World Cup Finals in 2018 and compete against the big countries," the former Meadowbrook Manning Cup football captain added.
"Football is my livelihood. I don't want to take myself away from the sport, so the aim is to balance academics and sport," noted Smith.
During his high-schools days, Smith also competed in track and field. He excelled in the GSAT examination in 2000 and went to Meadowbrook, where he spent six years and continued to perform well in academics and sports. He moved to Calabar High in 2007 and completed upper sixth form.
Smith also represented Meadhaven FC at youth and senior levels and praised the late David 'Wagga' Hunt for his guidance. He was a member of several winning teams at the club, but left for university after they were promoted to the Premier League.
Smith, who hails from the Constant Spring area, was introduced to Meadhaven FC by Paul Maxwell.
He thanks his family, especially mom Angela Percell, his uncle Marlon Percell - a former national representative - Carl Smith, another uncle, brothers Oneil and Stephen Morrison, the late Hunt; as well as the Ball Yard family for his success at balancing the ball and the books.