Life After Lax: Wiemi Douoguih, Turning Missed Chances Into Motivation

PHOTO COURTESY OF MEDSTAR HEALTH


Wiemi Douoguih was an All-American attackman at Washington and Lee University in the early 1990s. He scored 50 goals in just 15 games as a senior.

But it’s the one that got away — in a 1993 NCAA quarterfinal loss at Ohio Wesleyan — that consumed him for a decade after his playing career ended.

“I looked up and we were down 8-7. I thought, ‘We have an opportunity to go to the next game and really win this thing,’” Douoguih said. “I remember beating my man, going to the cage and in my mind, I started celebrating. Then all of the sudden, I heard this clink. The ball hit the butt end of [the goalie’s] stick and he made the save. I was heartbroken. There were like 30 seconds left and the ball got kicked out of bounds. It was crushing. This wonderful, magical season all comes down to the last moment — it’s all I remembered for about 10 years.”

Douoguih (pronounced doo-WOAH-gey) found something positive in that missed chance. “Missing that shot motivated me,” he said. “All that preparation, sometimes things go wrong and you just have to keep going. Thrill of victory, agony of defeat.”

He turned that motivation to another field — medicine. He’s now the medical director for sports medicine for the Washington D.C. region for MedStar. He’s spent his career operating on top professional athletes like Stephen Strasburg and John Wall as well as youth and high school athletes as an orthopedic surgeon. 

WHY MEDICINE?

My mom was a science teacher and a botanist, so I’ve always been around science. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer, so there was always an emphasis on service in our house. It was kind of preordained that I’d be involved in something like medicine.

WHY SPORTS MEDICINE?

I had seen my friends get injured, come back the next season and be ready to go. I thought it was a cool way to stay involved in sports after I was no longer able to participate at that level. It was definitely a sacrifice playing college lacrosse and doing pre-med. It helped me with life and the challenges I face as a physician.







WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?

I was selected for the Kerlan-Jobe Fellowship [in Los Angeles]. Frank Jobe is the doctor who invented Tommy John surgery. I got to work with him one of his final years, a surgeon who completely changed the face of baseball. Once in that track, it really opened up my options. A lot of team doctors come from the Kerlan-Jobe clinic.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AND REWARDS?

Obviously, you have to be an excellent surgeon, but you also have to gain the athlete’s confidence. You do that by always remembering the player’s needs come first. In the moment sometimes you don’t realize what you’re doing, you’re just kind of doing it. Then you look back and see a jersey on the wall and you think, ‘I was able to get a player back that helped that team win a championship.’ Knowing you’re a part of that is really exciting.

WHAT DRIVES YOU?

There’s really a need for quality care for youth athletes. Some of the kids I ended up treating were incredible athletes, but didn’t have access to great care. I put together a plan to improve care for kids locally and put athletic trainers in every school in Prince George’s County (Md.). It didn’t go through at the time because they didn’t have the funding, but the neighboring county, Montgomery County, did a trial program in 2013, saw the benefits and the next year picked up the tab. They’ve got a fully-funded program. Three years ago, Prince George’s County added the funding and now all the schools have athletic trainers. Pro sports are really interesting, but I really care about the kids that don’t have a chance. One of my mentors, Dr. James Andrews, said, ‘Take care of the kids who no one else wants to take care of.’”

HOW LUCKY DO YOU FEEL TO HAVE WORKED WITH WORLD-RENOWNED DOCTORS?

It’s just unbelievable. Every time I think about it, I feel a responsibility to continue their legacy. Dr. [Frank] Jobe and Dr. [James] Andrews were not only mentors, but friends. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about.

This article appears in the Championship Edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum. 

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