#NPSL20: Duluth FC’s Domaratskyy Inspires Soccer Community in Duluth and Beyond

“It is not a secret that my people are very brave and strong.  I think every person goes through something every day and battles difficulties in some way, so it is important to have the courage to be a person that looks their own fears in the eyes and knows what you actually stand for.”

The words of Kostyantyn Domaratskyy share the complex world that he is a part of.  While he has been part of an unbeaten season with Duluth FC, his home country of Ukraine struggles each and every day, fighting back against the unjust aggression of Russia.  

It’s truly amazing that this young man is able to play at such a high level considering everything that is going on back home.

“Playing takes away my head and thoughts from the things that bother me,” Domaratskyy said. “I would say playing helps me to deal with it.  But it has already been so many days that even the situation in my country has become normal for many people and countries, but not for me and Ukrainian people which is actually scary to imagine sometimes.”

His inspiring soccer journey began with Ukrainian sides FC Chornomorets and SC Dnipro-1 and continued at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN.  He appeared in 11 matches, registering three goals and one assist for the Buccaneers.  

After exhausting his collegiate eligibility at CBU in 2021, he eventually made his way to Duluth FC to be part of the 2022 and 2023 NPSL seasons.  Domaratskyy’s play has been remarkable as a key cog in Duluth’s squad, scoring 10 goals in two seasons.  

It is my second season with Duluth FC, and I am happy to be a part of this project, because as everybody can see we set the standard pretty high on the field and outside the field,” Domaratskyy said. “It is always enjoyable to be around people that aim for the highest places.  I am pretty sure our ranking can back all my words up.  Even though we won the conference, we are still hungry to perform our best and see if we could do the same outside our conference.”

The North Conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the league, and Domaratskyy has seen that firsthand.

“We have a lot of competitive teams in the conference, so you can’t expect a walk-through game, everybody becomes better from year to year, which makes the league more competitive,” Domaratskyy said. “Especially being top of the league everybody wants to take points from us, which makes it only more competitive and interesting.  I think the NPSL does a great job of giving us the opportunity to play and be involved in the game.”  

Domaratskyy, who hails from Lviv, appreciates the work of everyone in the Duluth FC organization.

“In soccer, to perform well you should take care of every aspect on the field and outside the field.  Duluth FC is not only about players but also people who you may not see often.  We have a lot of people behind the scene that create comfortable conditions for us when it comes to life outside of the field which helps us to concentrate on soccer.  When it comes to soccer I believe that we have an amazing group of coaches and players.  We have very demanding coaches that set our goals high, and I believe that this helps us to perform better from game to game individually and as a group as well.”

Domaratskyy also pointed out the impact that his host family has made on his time in Duluth.  They too have ties to Ukraine.  

“Host families play a big role in your summer experience because you spend most of the time with them,” Domaratskyy said. “I think that having an opportunity to live with a host is a privilege because as an international you get to see American culture from the inside.  I was really lucky to get an opportunity to live with my host family.  They make my summer experience more interesting and bright even in such a cold place like Duluth.” 

Domaratskyy’s impact on and off the field has not gone unnoticed, and he has left a lasting legacy on the club and its players, coaches, and supporters.  

“Given the situation in the Ukraine and Kosti’s family ties there, it is inspiring and humbling that this young man continues to be a pivotal part of our club, he trains and plays with a smile on his face,” Duluth head coach Sean Morgan said. “While this is a competitive environment and we all want to win games of football, enjoying each game and training session is why we play this sport.  Kosti epitomizes this aspect.” 

While he faces tremendous uncertainty off the field, Domaratskyy continues to look toward the future.  

“It is really hard for me to talk about short or long-term goals, especially in my position but one thing I know for sure I would like to stay true to my beliefs, morals, and principles,” Domaratskyy said. “Besides all the uncertain things around me, I know who I am as a person, and I know the direction I would like to move.  I would love to see Duluth FC grow as a project year after year and become something positive for more and more players and people around it.  From my point of view, they are moving in the right direction and I hope there are no limits to it.”

The story of Kostyantyn Domaratskyy is one that deserves to be told.  His talent, perseverance, and unwavering determination in the face of adversity will serve as great inspiration for those in the NPSL community.  

Photo Credit: Mauricio Ramirez and Holden Law


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