Sports & Outdoors

Chris McDonald discusses soccer, school and life

Chris McDonald (Newton, Mass.) is a senior here at the University of Puget Sound who majors in Molecular and Cellular Biology. As the goalkeeper for Puget Sound’s soccer team, he earned All-NWC Honors and Academic All-District Honors as a sophomore.

This year, he is a team captain and the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He ended his senior year by becoming the Loggers’ all-time leader in shutouts and fourth in NCAA Division III history, while being selected to the All-Northwest Conference First Team.
Student-athletes like McDonald do not come around every recruiting class, and an interview with him enlightened us more about the team, himself, and life in general.
How have you seen the soccer team grow over the past four years here at Puget Sound?
The growth of this team over the past four years has been absolutely incredible. After my freshman spring, we had eight players on the roster, and brought in 16 freshmen to help rebuild the program. Coming from that point where we had no idea what this team would be, to a team that accepts nothing less than a conference title has been astounding.
It has been a joy to grow with all these teammates over the past four years and get to a place where we feel like we are in the right spot to compete for a conference championship year in and year out.
How do you feel you have grown as a teammate and soccer player over the past four years here at Puget Sound?
I definitely feel like I have matured a lot over my four years here, both on and off the field. That can really be attributed to the great leadership that has been in place during my time here. There have been some great captains and other leaders before me who showed me what it really means to be a student-athlete here at Puget Sound. I learned what actual hard work was, and the level of dedication it takes to be successful, so I really owe any growth I have had to them.
What does it mean for you to be the captain of the Puget Sound soccer team your senior year?
Everyone wants their final year to be something special that they can remember, and to be selected by my team to be our leader during my final year is something I will never take for granted. I got the opportunity to take after the role models who were captains before me and help lead this team back to where it has been in the past in terms of success.
I thought we did a great job this year in taking another step in that direction, so being able to look back and say I was a part of that has been pretty special.
What does having the all-time school record of shutouts for a goalkeeper mean to you?
It really just means I have been around for a long time. I’m definitely honored to be mentioned among the likes of some of the all-American goalkeepers who have come before me, but I’m sure they would agree with my feeling, that it really is just a reflection of the quality of defense we have had as a whole.
This program has prided itself on having one of the best defenses in the nation, and this record just proves that we have succeeded in that.
My name gets placed at the top of the records, but it’s really just a product of the defense I have had in front of me for the four years I’ve been here.
What was the most memorable soccer moment you have had at Puget Sound?
It was our last game of the season, at PLU, and they are our biggest rivals. Even though the game was not going to decide the conference, we took great pride in beating a nationally ranked team, and setting ourselves up with something to build on for the next year.
PLU had never been shut out before we played them, and had one of the best offenses in the nation. We went to their field, scored an early goal and then our whole defense played amazing for the rest of the game. It was probably the best game I have played here, and the feeling after that win was something I will never forget.
What do you see as your greatest success here at Puget Sound, be it academic, athletic or any other achievements?
I think my greatest success is more of a concept than anything tangible. For me, the ability to balance soccer, academics and extracurricular activities like being the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has been my greatest success. I feel like I have been able to give 100 percent to each of them, and have success in all of these areas.
I’m very proud of that, and that I have gotten to a place in my life where I can balance all of those different activities. To me that is greater than anything tangible.
What are you going to take with you forward from your Puget Sound soccer experience?
It’s ironic because the biggest thing I am going to take from my Puget Sound soccer experience is that soccer isn’t the most important thing sometimes.
Growing up as a competitive soccer player, it sometimes begins to feel like soccer is the most important thing in life, but being on this team, I have learned that there are other things that trump soccer.
The way our team rallied around the loss of our athletic trainer to cancer, the way we helped out people on the team who were going through rough patches and countless other examples of times when things have come before soccer is the biggest thing I can take with me, and I think that applies to every aspect of life.
That was one of the biggest messages of the Puget Sound soccer experience, and something I am very grateful to have learned.