On the grass soccer fields on top of Plum Hill Road in Litchfield overlooking the treetops below, Timmy Donovan is at home.
Right now, it is the only place the senior wants to be. Playing soccer with the guys he grew up with for the town he loves.
Donovan had options to leave.
Several prep schools in the state recruited him for years and last winter, he seriously considered leaving, applying to a few schools before ultimately deciding to finish his career on top of Plum Hill.
“Litchfield has a special spot in my heart,” Donovan said. “I had done three years here and decided I wanted to finish all four here. I am really glad I stayed. Those prep schools are not even having seasons this year. I got to stay here with my friends, my family and everyone I know. I was definitely a good decision.”
Donovan, who will play in college at Colgate, is a two-time CHSCA All-State pick, a 2019 GametimeCT First Team All-State selection, an All-New England first teamer and a 2019 United Coaches Association All-American.
He is the first Litchfield player in over 40 years (John Novajowsky) to be named All-New England and the first ever to receive All-American honors.
He entered senior year already holding the school record for career goals at 78 and currently sits at 92 which places him first all-time in the Berkshire League.
He set a single-season school record with 36 goals as a junior.
“The 5-inch playing field between his ears, his mental toughness is his greatest asset,” Litchfield coach Rob Andrulis said. “Timmy works incredibly hard at his craft and puts in the extra work in to get better. This goes all the way back to when he was a rising star in the middle school program.”
Indeed, Donovan has been known around the soccer community in Litchfield since he was a kid working as the ball boy during his older brother, Jack’s, varsity games.
He made a name for himself dominating in the Litchfield youth soccer programs and it soon became apparent that he was going to have to spread his wings outside of the bucolic small town.
In eighth grade, Donovan joined the highly regarded Farmington Sports Arena Premier Soccer Club, coached by Hall coach Zeke Seguro and featuring many of the top players from the CCC and other larger conferences around the state.
“There was a point in time where I was talking to my dad and I had played Litchfield soccer all my life, it was time for me to branch out,” Donovan said. “If playing soccer was what I wanted to do, I am not going to be able to do that just by playing in Litchfield. (FSA) is great competition. It’s given me everything I need in terms of bettering myself as a soccer player. Also, it has helped me with college recognition and that sort of thing. I absolutely love it.”
Once he entered high school, he immediately became one the Berkshire League’s top players and by the end of his sophomore year in which he helped Litchfield to the conference title and CIAC Class S semifinals, was clearly the best player in the small conference in the northwest corner of the state.
That is when the prep schools first came calling.
Moving over to a prep school made sense from a soccer standpoint with several schools in Connecticut often among the top prep schools in New England with rosters full of Division-1 college talent.
As tempting as it was to play with some of the elite players in the country, Litchfield is home.
“Timmy over the past few years has been recruited by all of the top prep schools in the region,” Andrulis said. “He chose not to leave and that is not normally what happens with a player of his caliber. He has also been asked that question many times and his answer has always been that he wanted to stay and help the program be successful. He has done just that.”
Soccer and Litchfield are in his blood.
Donovan’s father, John was a standout player in his day for Wamogo in Litchfield and at Norwich University; his brother Jack was All-Berkshire League as was his sister Caroline who went on to play at Fairfield University.
“My brother was a huge part in my soccer development and learning about the game,” Donovan said. “He was who I played with, played FIFA with or he’d show me goals online. He was a big contributor to my love of soccer. I was ball boy for all his games. I had the time of my life doing that.”
Watching those games as a ball boy sparked Donovan’s fondness for the Berkshire League which he still has.
“The Berkshire League is very unique. Not a lot of people know about it because it is a small league with small schools. I love playing in the Berkshire League,” Donovan said. “Every team we play, I know somebody. There is nothing better than all the little rivalries. It’s good competition, too.”
The Berkshire League did not have to split into regions this year and though they played less games, the teams played a more normalized schedule than those around the state.
Litchfield will be going for a Berkshire title in the postseason which begins next week.
The Cowboys will be doing so without Donovan who suffered a possible meniscus tear and did not play in Friday’s game against Northwestern.
An incredible career on top of Plum Hill for the best player to ever put on the uniform at Litchfield is over a few games earlier than he planned.
“It was tough; it was sad,” Donovan told GametimeCT after the game. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who played for Litchfield and they all said playing Litchfield soccer was the best time of their lives. Playing for the blue and white is very special to me.”
Peter Wallace contributed to this story