Courtesy Photo | <strong>Susan Knowles</strong>
                                Juneau-Douglas High School soccer coach Gary Lehnhart, center, poses senior Justin Dorn, left, and Luke Knowles following the Crimson Bears’ win over Dimond in the 2001 state championship in Anchorage. Dorn was inducted into the ASAA High School Hall of Fame on May 5.

Courtesy Photo | Susan Knowles Juneau-Douglas High School soccer coach Gary Lehnhart, center, poses senior Justin Dorn, left, and Luke Knowles following the Crimson Bears’ win over Dimond in the 2001 state championship in Anchorage. Dorn was inducted into the ASAA High School Hall of Fame on May 5.

This ‘understated’ local soccer player tried to shy away from the limelight. It didn’t work.

JDHS grad Justin Dorn recognized at induction ceremony

Humble and determined — those are two words to describe Justin Dorn.

Bring up his illustrious high school soccer career in which he scored 49 goals and led Juneau-Douglas High School to its first state championship, the former Gatorade Player of the Year will tell you how much credit should go to his former coach and teammates.

[A sudden death heartbreaker at boys state soccer final]

“I tend to be someone who shies away from the limelight a little bit,” Dorn said in an interview.

Dorn and nine other athletes, coaches and administrators were inducted into the the Alaska High School Hall of Fame earlier this month at the Lakefront Anchorage Hotel. JDHS boys soccer coach Gary Lehnhart said the Hall of Fame invited him to nominate a player. After considering numerous candidates, he selected Dorn.

The 2019 ASAA High School Hall of Fame. Back row: Justin Dorn (Juneau-Douglas), Philip Engebretsen (Homer), Austin Vanderford (Ninilchik), Steve Nerland (Anchorage schools), Mike Ashley (Anchorage schools). Front row: Cody Tanner (Chugiak), Randy Hanson (Bethel), Stacia Rustad (Kenai), Alev Kelter (Chugiak), Vic Belleque (Dillingham).

The 2019 ASAA High School Hall of Fame. Back row: Justin Dorn (Juneau-Douglas), Philip Engebretsen (Homer), Austin Vanderford (Ninilchik), Steve Nerland (Anchorage schools), Mike Ashley (Anchorage schools). Front row: Cody Tanner (Chugiak), Randy Hanson (Bethel), Stacia Rustad (Kenai), Alev Kelter (Chugiak), Vic Belleque (Dillingham).

“I started thinking about how did this program grow and why did it grow?” Lehnhart said. “After considering a number of players, from Robert Lossett, to Colin Flynn to Dylan Ashe, I really settled on Justin for one main reason: I think he was the first player to really put Juneau on the map, soccer-wise.”

Lehnhart said Dorn laid the groundwork what became a decade-plus of dominance. The Crimson Bears appeared in the state final in all but two years between 2000-2012, winning five state titles. In Dorn’s final high school game, JDHS topped Dimond to win their first-ever state championship. Dorn went on to play three seasons for Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

[He once struck out Ken Griffey Jr. Now, Juneau’s most famous baseball player is finally getting his due.]

Dorn said it was a big deal to establish Juneau as a soccer town.

“We really grew up playing here in Juneau on dirt fields whereas all the Anchorage teams were playing on grass and turf,” Dorn said. “We’d go up there and they’d have the nice jerseys and we’d have kind of tattered together stuff. We really weren’t coming from any history of soccer.”

Dorn said he took offseason training very seriously, even going so far as to join the high school basketball team just to participate in their rigorous preseason workouts.

“(The coach) looked at me like I was an insane person,” Dorn told the Empire. “It was me and a friend of mine on the soccer team. He said, ‘So you’re going to do preseason and you’re not going to be on the team?’ We were like, ‘Yep.’”

Dorn’s high school teammate Luke Knowles described Dorn’s play as “understated,” a style Lehnhart also saw in his former player.

“He’s still the model that I use for players on how to score,” Lehnhart said. “He didn’t score these goals where you went, ‘Oh my god, that was incredible.’ He just would get the ball, and put it in the net. You’d be surprised how hard that is to do. You get a lot of guys, you put them in front of the net and they shoot it 30, 40 yards wide, or they’d kill it.”

The Alaska School Activites Association, the state’s governing body for high school sports, created the Hall of Fame in 2006 to recognize those who “exhibited high ethical standards and integrity while achieving excellence in high school athletics and activities.” Also inducted into the hall this year were Philip Engebretsen, Austin Vanderford, Steve Nerland, Mike Ashley, Cody Tanner, Randy Hanson, Stacia Rustad, Alev Kelter and Vic Belleque.

With his induction, Dorn also joins an elite company of former Crimson Bear athletes to receive the honor including Carlos Boozer (basketball), Chad Bentz (baseball/football), Leah Francis (cross country/track) and Talisa Rhea (basketball).


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.