Jarred Dass skipped his Stony Brook University graduation ceremony on Friday. He had a good reason: He was taking another step in his chosen career path.
Dass participated in the two-day Midwest Pro Soccer Combine along with fellow Seawolves men's soccer product Gustavo Fernandes after each received an invite to the prestigious event.
Four MLS clubs, including New York City FC, as well as nine USL Championship clubs were among the more than 20 professional organizations attending the combine in Brighton, Mich. The Midwest Combine included three 60-minute matches to showcase the participants' skills for professional club talent evaluators.
"Being selected to the Midwest Combine was something good for me to hear," said Dass, who scored a team-high six goals each of the past two seasons for Stony Brook. "It just shows that, although sometimes hard work doesn't have a result, I believe my hard work did.
"It motivated me because, as with any athlete, there were times of doubt — if you're good enough or if you're not good enough. Moments like these, it boosts your confidence knowing you are deserving of this and good enough to be at this level."
During the past four seasons, Dass proved a sparkplug for the Stony Brook men's soccer team. But now that he has played his last match at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, having graduated with a business management degree on Friday, the two-time All-America East selection is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.
Dass has performed at high levels before. He narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification with the Trinidad U17 national team several years ago. And this past summer, he competed with AFC Ann Arbor, a USL League Two club, an experience he recalled fondly.
"It was a great experience to just get out of my comfort zone and play with a whole different team in a whole different place — with a different league and a different level of players," he said. "It was a challenge for me, but a challenge I think I grasped with both hands and really made the most of."
As for playing for his native country, Dass intends to reconnect with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association officials before qualifying begins for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Dass also is thankful for his time as a Seawolf.
"My four years at Stony Brook definitely helped me transcend to the next level," he said. "Stony Brook Athletics does a really good job of putting things in place for student-athletes both on and off the pitch, so I was very thankful for that."
Although the sun has set on Dass' illustrious collegiate career, the arc of his professional career is just beginning.