Rodrick McDonald, a senior in mechanical engineering, has loved the thrill of competition since his Deer Park High School days in Pasadena, Texas, where he competed in multiple sports. Returning to Texas for football’s Whataburger Cactus Bowl in January and the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships last spring only managed to increase his competitive fever.
Earning a chance to play in the Whataburger Cactus Bowl, a Division II All-Star football game in his home state of Texas, was the icing on the cake for McDonald’s 2005 football season. Assisting the UMR football team with its first winning season in 20 years, defensive back McDonald also was a second-team selection to the all-Independent Football Team Alliance last fall.
“On defense, the goal is to make big plays and keep the team’s offense on the field,” says McDonald, who had an interception return for a touchdown to help clinch a victory against Upper Iowa. “The thrill of victory, the big plays, the love of the game; they all mean a lot to me. I know that I am a difference-maker, and that is important in football.”
McDonald has also made a difference in the UMR track and field program. He hopes to lead the track team to success in its first season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and assistant track and field coach Bryan Schiding believes McDonald has the ability to graduate as an All-American athlete and a school record holder in multiple events.
“He is a hard worker and a very determined individual,” Schiding says. “I was very happy with his performance last year, and getting to compete in the track and field championships in his home state was very special for him.”
Schiding feels McDonald continues to establish himself as a team leader and positive role model for the team, “which is just as important as his accomplishments on the track,” Schiding says.
McDonald is quick to share how much he enjoys the relationships he has built with his coaches and teammates. “As I try to push my mind and body to the limit every day, it is those relationships that make the experience more special,” he says.
“When you’re in a team, you have a chance to meet people from everywhere, with completely different backgrounds, and getting to know them will help you grow as a person. You meet team leaders who show you how to be successful and help you find your way.”