From open tryout to Phoenix Rising, Devante Dubose perseveres
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When the San Jose Earthquakes selected Devante Dubose 66th overall in the 2014 MLS Superdraft, it was a dream come true for the hometown defender.
But life can be a roller coaster and the next four years saw Dubose bouncing from team to team before finally ending up at an open tryout for Phoenix Rising FC earlier this year. That tryout proved to be a gateway back to the sport as Dubose plays regularly for Rising.
“It’s just a blessing to be in this situation and it’s been one heck of a journey, for sure,” Dubose said.
Dubose has only been with the team since January, when former Phoenix Rising coach Patrice Carteron, who recently was hired to lead a top Egyptian club, decided to bring him in after a successful tryout.
Dubose’s goal for the tryout was to show he could be good professional, that he still had a lot to prove. Carteron saw it, too.
“I really had the feeling that he deserved to have his chance,” Carteron said. “He has a great attitude no matter if he’s starting or not. … Considering this, I have a lot of respect for him. Of course I expect more from him on the field, but he’s still very young and we have time to make him progress.”
Dubose was born in Berkeley, Calif., and grew up in nearby Oakland. His dream when he was young was to sign with the Earthquakes, the local team in the Bay Area.
Although he didn’t see any time with the club’s first team other than preseason action, the Virginia Tech product did play for the club’s under-23 team. Eventually the team cut him, and he began searching for another.
Dubose played all over, including overseas and in the Premier Development League, a fourth-tier division in the U.S. soccer landscape. This included some time at FC Tucson.
After a short-lived stint for United Soccer League club Oklahoma City Energy in 2016, Dubose decided to take time off. He said he needed to get his “body and mind right.”
But Dubose wasn’t dormant. In 2017, he took a “leap of faith” to create First Touch Soccer and Fitness, where he worked with children as a soccer coach and a mentor.
“First Step for me was a chance to express myself through soccer using my platform and a way for my community of kids who don’t get opportunities,” he said. “My road and my journey and the process it took me to get here, I want to share that story, I want to share those hardships with those kids.”
Despite his efforts in mentoring, Dubose said he believed he wasn’t done playing and wanted to still reach his dream of playing professional soccer.
In addition to his mentorship, Dubose said he used that year to build himself “from the bottom up” including physically, mentally and spiritually for his next shot.
“The last moments, the last time you think it’s over is when you have a breakthrough,” Dubose said.
Dubose contacted his former FC Tucson coach, Rick Schantz, now the interim coach for Phoenix Rising after being an assistant. Schantz told him of open tryouts and Dubose was on board. Dubose said he used the late-January tryouts as a chance to get in front of Carteron.
Carteron decided to sign Dubose to a contract, the only one from the open tryouts to secure an offer. Dubose said he thought Carteron liked his attitude, but Carteron said he was impressed with his athletic abilities.
“He’s so fast,” Carteron said. “In the 1v1 defensive scheme, he’s really hard to beat. I was really impressed by his physical capacities.”
Early on Dubose said there were adjustments because the club featured a talented roster. But those same talented teammates also helped him grow as a player, he said.
Since the tryout, Dubose has come a long way and can endure tougher workouts, Carteron said
“Now, he’s a much more physical player,” Carteron said. “That’s very important because it will give him the opportunity to work harder everyday to progress quickly and physically.”
In the short time with the team, Dubose has assimilated with other Rising players. Forward Kevaughn Frater said he and Dubose hang out away from the pitch, getting haircuts at the same place.
“Upscale Barber Shop just right off of Scottsdale (Road),” Frater said. “That’s the spot, you know?”
Away from the barber shop and on the field, Frater said Dubose brings positive vibes and is a strength for the team.
“He knows his job and he wants to help everybody around,” Frater said. “He just wants to be positive to everyone.”
As passionate as Dubose is about soccer, it’s not his whole life. He calls music his “meditation” and something that takes him “away from reality and putting (me) in my own world of creation,” according to his LinkedIn page.
Dubose said during that year off from soccer, music was part of his quest to build himself physically, mentally and spiritually.
He’s been involved in music in some way since he was 13. He said he learned to write and read music then and it became “therapeutic” for him.
“I think it’s important for younger kids, for professional adults to have hobbies, to have things like that, that doesn’t stress you out,” Dubose said. “As much fun as we have out here, it’s tough at the same time. It’s good to have that release and for me, music has always been that answer.”
Dubose’s music talents even took him into a rap group called DNA with his Virginia Tech teammate Austin Stewart, according to an article published on Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times.
Creating a lists of top music artists was a tough task for Dubose but he said when he looks at music, he sees it as art and he appreciates the complete package of that art.
He did rank Drake as his favorite in the music industry with artists from Top Dawg Entertainment like SZA and Kendrick Lamar. He later added J Cole to his list.
Music, for Dubose, is something that can “live forever” and a passion he hopes to carry after his soccer career.
“This sport right here, I don’t know how much longer I have but knowing that I have music, it really keeps me sane,” he said.
Dubose’s journey has taught him a lot but the biggest lesson he said he learned was to not have regrets in life.
“It’s about who you become in the process,” Dubose said. “Who I’ve become today, I wouldn’t take back any of those hardships. Those are needed to in order to persevere.”