Smith signed a NIL deal with Hunny Bee’s in February, not long after his teammate DaRon Holmes II started promoting another local restaurant, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken.
With the Dayton women’s soccer team off to a 6-1-1 start and Donley playing a key role as a defender after last season, this was a good time for Niehaus to partner with a UD player.
“We wanted to do something fun,” Niehaus said, “and what’s more fun than women’s soccer in the fall. Alicia is a friend of the brand who loves Hunny Bee’s, and we thought she was the perfect person to bring onto the team, joining Malachi. She’s a great representative of UD soccer and an awesome person. That’s the smiling face we want.”
Donley is a graduate of Pickerington North High School. She has athleticism in her blood. Her mom Stephanie (Zunich) Donley was a 20-time All-American swimmer and seven-time national champion (five relay titles and two individual championships) at the University of Florida from 1988-91. Her dad Mike Donley ran track at Miami University.
Donley scored 67 goals in her high school career and was a three-time first-team all-state selection. She graduated from high school halfway through her senior year and enrolled early at the University of Tennessee, where she scored four goals in two seasons.
Donley decided to transfer after the 2020 season because she wanted to be closer to home and wanted to go to a catholic school. Religion is important to her, and she said she plays for a higher purpose: to glorify God.
Donley scored five goals and started nine matches last fall at Dayton as the Flyers finished 12-6-2 and 8-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Entering their first A-10 match Thursday at Davidson, the Flyers had lost only to Ohio State, 4-0 on Sept. 1, in the first three weeks of the season.
Coach Eric Golz told the team this week it was one of 33 teams from across the nation to enter conference play with six victories.
“That’s really big for us,” Donley said. “We have a great shot, a great opportunity to be great. I think we have a lot of great players all around.”
Donley has one more year of eligibility after this season because the pandemic season of 2020 didn’t count against anyone’s eligibility. She plans to make the most of it by continuing to pursue NIL opportunities and building her personal brand. She’s a communications major who’s working on a minor in marketing, so everything she does will be good for her resume. She also hopes to inspire other athletes to do the same.
“I think there are a lot of people, especially on my team, who can definitely profit from NIL,” Donley said. “Not just the big-name people in basketball, football baseball. They can say, ‘She’s a Division I soccer player, and she’s doing this, and I can do it, too.”