Collegiate was honored to welcome back Jake McDonald (‘07) to campus this fall when he joined the Collegiate faculty as Associate Director of Summer Quest, Upper School Health and Wellness teacher, and SCA Co-Advisor. McDonald also serves as an assistant varsity men’s lacrosse coach in the spring and a Cub football coach in the fall.
McDonald grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and moved about six times before arriving at Collegiate in the eighth grade. He had two sisters, one of whom graduated from Collegiate in 2004. When asked about his time at Collegiate, McDonald remarks that he remembers former Upper School English teacher Lewis “Bubba” Lawson’s class well and Bubba’s “funny way of connecting with kids.” In addition, he distinctly remembers reading Touching Spirit Bear in Upper School Religion teacher Brian Justice’s class. Outside of the classroom, McDonald participated in football and lacrosse. During his junior and senior years, McDonald won three state championships: two in football and one in lacrosse. He credits his team’s successes to the relationships between the grade above and below him and their ability to work well together. He “remember[s] the relationships with teammates on and off the field more vividly than any game.”
After graduating from Collegiate in 2007, McDonald headed off to Hampden-Sydney College to play lacrosse. At Hampden-Sydney, he was a four year letterman and a team captain his senior year. He was also an All-ODAC Academic honoree and an essential part of the Tigers’ success on the field. He remarks that the small school aspect of Hampden-Sydney was very influential and beneficial for him as it provided him with a lot of structure. From being a member of the lacrosse team to joining a fraternity, he speaks very highly of his time at Hampden-Sydney.
After college, McDonald got a job as a salesman, but found that he did not enjoy it very much. During part of the week, he volunteered as a lacrosse coach. McDonald stated that it, “was the highlight of his week.” He knew that he had found solace and interest in volunteer coaching, so he decided to go back to school and get a Masters Degree in Sports Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2012, McDonald was named the head coach for the Norfolk Collegiate School’s men’s lacrosse team. He found himself excited and gratified, yet a bit nervous, and described himself as a bit overwhelmed at first, for as a “twenty-three year old leading the varsity lacrosse team was a large honor.” He stated that, “The first people I conversed with were [Head Collegiate men’s lacrosse Coach (Andrew)] Stanley and [Assistant men’s lacrosse Coach (Alex)] Peavey. They walked me through the process of engaging with the parents but also earning the respect of the players.” He taught physical education and health classes at Norfolk Collegiate and also served as the Assistant Athletic Director for some of his time there. In 2015, VISAA named McDonald the “Man of the Year” a US Lacrosse award, for his efforts and service at Norfolk Collegiate.
In the summer of 2015, Collegiate was lucky enough to have McDonald return to campus again joining the staff as the Associate Director of Summer Quest, working closely with Collin McConaghy to put together the spectacular summer program Collegiate offers. In addition, McDonald also teaches Driver’s Education classes and works with Beth Kondorossy as an SCA Co-Advisor. Coach Stanley, who coached McDonald ten years ago, had nothing but praise and joy for his return, “It has been great having Jake back at Collegiate. It is always fun to get to coach with guys you coached. The energy and enthusiasm that made him a great player at Collegiate continue to serve him well as a coach. We are lucky to have him back!” When asked about what it is like return to Collegiate, McDonald states that, “It is awesome to know that the relationship piece of Collegiate still remains as the backbone… I don’t think that is has ever been about wins or losses but ultimately about being good teammates and coaches… It’s great to see the new faces and personalities all still living the same common theme.”
Photos courtesy of Jake McDonald.