Where are they now? Jay DeMerit using his story to inspire others


Former Watford defender Jay DeMerit’s career may sound like something out of a Hollywood movie, and you’d be right, to an extent at least.

Having taken advantage of the fact he could work in Europe due to his Danish grandfather, DeMerit moved to England and began playing with Spartan South Midland League side Southall.

A move to Northwood was short-lived after the Woods played Watford in a pre-season friendly.

Such was the impression he made that he was signed by the Hornets to bring his spell at the club to an end after just a month.

In just two seasons the American was heading the winner to put Watford into the Premier League at the expense of Leeds in the 2005-06 play-off final.

Another four years at Vicarage Road followed for the centre-back, during which time he earned a call-up to the USA national team.


Leaving the Hertfordshire outfit in 2010 to return to North America, DeMerit plyed his trade for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS.

He retired in 2014, but not before an independent film company produced a documentary on his journey, from his arrival in the UK with $1,800 in his pocket to international footballer.

‘Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story’ told of how he came to London with no professional experience and played for £40-a-week at Southall before Watford came calling.

The theme of striving to achieve something from nothing is a common one in DeMerit’s post-football career.

The 35-year-old has gone on to set up a number of companies from scratch in a variety of different areas.

A degree in Product Design, picked up before his footballing career began, came in handy, when a year after hanging up his boots, DeMerit launched Portmanteau Stereo Co.

Alongside business associate Jeff McConnell, the company produce sound systems with an artistic twist, from suitcases to portable offerings built into a log.

Or maybe simply in a coffee table…

Asked why stereos were the product of choice in a recent interview with kitandace.com, DeMerit responded with:

“Because they’re party boxes. You’re creating an environment, creating good times.”

‘Creating a good time’ did get him and his wife into trouble according with neighbours in Vancouver, when a local newspaper ran a story on how the couple had kept up half of their apartment block, with their raucous gatherings.

DeMerit himself showed off a note left outside their door after one get-together…

A photo posted by Jay DeMerit (@d6merit) on

Nevertheless, the business world continues to be in the forefront of the former stopper’s life.

He co-founded Songwhale while still playing, a company that develops technologies for internet and mobile devices, and has seen the company go from strength-to-strength, now boasting offices in Pittsburgh, Bangkok and Tokyo amongst other places.

More recently though, DeMerit has been using his own story to promote the opportunities available youngsters.

Alongside his wife, Canadian Olympic Gold Medallist Ashleigh McIvor, he created the Rise & Shine Retreat.

Opening its doors for the first time this summer, the facility in Pemberton Valley, British Colombia, offers a summer camp for youngsters to learn and develop through sport and recreation.

According to their website the retreat provides “youth with opportunities to improve their athletic skills through a variety of activities, while also teaching them how to create, focusing on life skills like cooking, nutrition, character building, and bonfire talks about leadership through an all-encompassing life-skills camp.”

As well as providing something aimed at inspiring youth to fulfil their capabilities, the facilities have a corporate side providing a stunning backdrop amongst the snow-capped mountains for business meetings and outings.

But while his new venture may take up a lot of his time these days, fear not Watford fans, he’s obviously still got a soft spot for the Hornets.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.