By Mike Hoffman
Media Relations Director
Derek had his eye on Bevin Green during the early part of his junior year at Sachse High School in suburban Dallas. But despite his status as a budding football star he was positive the pretty brunette had no idea who he was.
That is until he donned the guise of a fairy tale prince.
You see, Derek Douglas was not your ordinary high school football player. He would earn numerous accolades for his play on the gridiron, but he was also a choir star and leading man on the stage.
It was in that latter role that he would finally have his opportunity to chase the girl of his dreams.
Derek had no plans of seeking the part of Prince Dauntless in Sachse’s production of the musical Once Upon a Mattress. Didn’t even think of trying out. He had played Little John in Robin Hood the previous year, but that role called for someone who could match the character’s large frame. And at 6 foot, 2 inches with thick, curly hair, he fit the bill.
But this was different. Derek had no idea why he was even asked to play the role of the wimpy prince. Then he discovered something that would change his mind. Bevin would be his leading lady.
“I thought I may be able to spend time with her,” said Derek. “We wound up being together a lot during production time and in rehearsal. It was real confusing until one day I asked her what we were and said ‘why not be my girlfriend?’”
He may not have been the type of actor Hans Christian Andersen had in mind when he created the role of Prince Dauntless in The Princess and the Pea, the story on which Once Upon a Mattress was based. But for Derek it was the beginning of a real life fairy tale.
And it took some behind-the-scenes machinations by another important woman in his life a couple years earlier to get this story going.
“The summer leading up to my freshman year I was asked about 20 times if I wanted to be in the choir,” said Derek. “I had an older sister (Madison) who was already a performer. But I was going to public school for the first time and didn’t want to be ‘that guy.’ The one everyone looked to as the choir guy trying to be on the football team.”
Turns out he didn’t have much of a choice. Choir was on his class schedule when he showed up for his first day of high school. His mother, Jill, had gone behind his back and signed him up.
“I didn’t know why I was there. I had shown absolutely no prior musical skills,” said Derek. “On the first day of choir the teacher asked me what I sing, if I was a bass or baritone. I didn’t even know what that meant.”
So whether he liked it or not, Derek was a member of the choir. He soon found his voice and discovered he actually enjoyed it. However, it didn’t stop the mostly good-natured teasing in the locker room.
“My teammates were kinda skeptical, and the coaches constantly gave me hell for it,” remembered Derek. “But by the time I was a junior and senior, I had recruited a couple of guys from the team who joined the choir.”
Before too long Derek wasn’t just exercising his vocal cords, he was becoming a star. He was recognized as Sachse’s outstanding choir student all four years while continually searching for new challenges.
He began studying pieces in Italian and was soon singing beautifully in that language, just one way in which Derek would begin channeling his competitive nature honed on the football field to the musical world.
“You don’t want to stay the same in anything. You always want to see how far you can go and how good you can be,” said Derek. “I started taking voice lessons and entering solo competitions, which is how I started singing different pieces of music.”
Even as his football career began to take off, Derek was now firmly committed to his pursuit of the arts. He eventually expanded his reach from music to theatre, earning parts in productions as varied as the period piece The Mill on the Floss to Shakespeare’s Macbeth in which he played Macduff.
Then there was Once Upon a Mattress. His initial misgivings about joining the cast (and trimming his locks) would be trumped by his eventual romance with Bevin. The relationship was now official but was destined to meet a serious obstacle once graduation day arrived.
“We had been dating about a year when I came to Charleston for my recruiting visit,” recalled Derek. “I called her after I was convinced I’d be at The Citadel. I wanted it to work and so did she.”
Love easily proved stronger than distance, surviving his first four years at The Citadel. And on May 17, 2013, Bevin Green became Bevin Douglas in a Texas ceremony that was attended by several of Derek’s college teammates, with close friends Jim Knowles, Bay Amrhein and Chris Billingslea serving in the wedding party.
Although football and academics has forced his alter ego into the shadows during much of his college career, Derek still keeps his toes in the performing world as much as he can, even if it’s just an occasional night of karaoke or singing in the shower like the rest of us. He also recognizes the influence it has had on his life.
“My experiences have made me more open to whatever comes your way,” observed Derek. “If I focused on just one thing, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve been around just about every type of person and accept them for who they are.”
The football star who once adamantly avoided the stage now relishes everything that world has given him, including his new bride. The concern about how his teammates would react has long since faded away.
“It is a part of who I am.”