FAYETTEVILLE — Marshall McDonald knows what it takes to build a successful collegiate summer baseball team, and he’s hoping to bring that knowledge to the Lexington County Blowfish this season.
After serving as assistant coach of the Coastal Plain League contender last summer, McDonald is in the early stages of his first campaign as skipper for the Blowfish.
“I got the job through one of my buddies to be the assistant last year,” McDonald said. “The guy said he (former head coach Jonathan Johnson) might be giving it up soon and I might be able to take over if I did a good job. It’s definitely a blessing.”
McDonald just finished first season as volunteer assistant coach at Presbyterian. He said his first stint with the Blue Hose came with many educational opportunities.
“It was rough. We went 15-39,” McDonald said. “It was a tough year at Presbyterian. I learned from the experience. It was humbling at times. It was overall a good step for me.”
Before then, he spent four seasons at Catawba Valley Community College, where he played his first season of college baseball.
He’s taken advantage of breaks between those campaigns to hone his coaching skills, spending the past three summers coaching in collegiate leagues. One of his top accomplishments in that span was guiding the Lenoir Oilers to the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League championship in 2016. That season he was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
He learned one key lesson from those experiences.
“I learned that summer baseball is supposed to be fun,” McDonald said. “It’s about being in the ballpark and playing baseball. Just let them relax and have fun.”
He was also associate head coach of the Statesville Owls in 2015.
His baseball career originated in Robeson County, where he was a two-time all-conference and all-county selection at Red Springs High School.
He was also a standout lineman on the Red Devils’ football team.
McDonald went on to play one season at CVCC before attending Montreat College for his final two seasons of college baseball.
He said being able to venture out of the county after graduating from Red Springs in 2007 was a positive experience.
“It changed my life, seeing different parts of the world and meeting different kinds of people,” McDonald said. “It really helped me grow as a man.”
Over a decade after graduating as a Red Devil, McDonald is sporting what has become his signature beard while overseeing the Blowfish.
He intends on never shaving his facial hair, regardless of whether or not the Blowfish live up to the goals he set for them this summer.
“First and foremost, I want to win the championship,” McDonald said. “I just want the guys to have fun and play in a professional atmosphere. It’s pretty cool when guys get to experience that.”
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.