Quaker Valley thrower’s dedication carries him to Amherst track team
Sunday, December 18, 2022 | 11:01 AM
By all indications, Quaker Valley senior Alex MacDonald is a humble guy.
His actions, however, speak volumes about his academic and athletic prowess.
MacDonald recently received an early decision acceptance letter to prestigious Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., where he will be a throwing specialist on the men’s track and field team.
“My older sister played ice hockey at Amherst, so I was already familiar with the school,” MacDonald said, “and it just so happened that my sister’s hockey coach (Jeff Matthews) told the track coach (Steve Rubin) about me. Coach Rubin contacted me and after just a few Facetimes, I knew that I wanted him to be my coach and Amherst would be a great fit for me.”
Amherst frequently ranks at or near the top in most rankings of liberal arts schools. Admissions is highly selective with a 7% acceptance rate.
The Mammoths participate in the New England Small College Athletic Conference and historically have had close relationships and rivalries with Williams College and Wesleyan University.
MacDonald’s sister Kenzie graduated from Amherst in May with a double major and was a captain on the women’s ice hockey team.
“I came into contact with Amherst fairly early,” MacDonald said, “while I was still in the process of narrowing down my choices. I wasn’t sure on any specific schools, but I knew I wanted to go to a smaller, more selective school.
“As soon as I met with coach Rubin, I stopped looking at other schools and was set on Amherst.”
MacDonald, 17, is an impressive 6-foot-2, 250-pound athlete. He has a 4.57 GPA and is taking four AP classes plus a high school-to-college English class through Pitt.
He lifts with his trainer, Si Bishop, multiple days per week and also takes private throwing lessons with Jayne Betty.
MacDonald competed with Three Rivers Rowing Association from eighth to 11th grade and also has played the euphonium in the QVHS concert band for seven years.
He plans to study math and economics at Amherst.
“I expect to meet a lot of new people and make some strong bonds with my peers and teammates,” MacDonald said. “I know that at Amherst I will be challenged academically, so I will have to be at the top of my game to get good grades. I also expect to take my athletics to the next level and continue to improve.”
Did someone say humble?
MacDonald has placed ninth in the discus at the WPIAL championships the past two years and generally takes first in the event at his high school meets. He hopes to break the school record in the discus in the spring.
And speaking of breaking things, MacDonald — not knowing his own strength in his first indoor throwing lesson of the winter season — accidently tossed the shot put through the dry wall at a gym in Baden.
It seems he just can’t get enough of the sport thanks to his competitive nature.
“I love my track coaches, (QV head coach) Jared Jones, John Doucette and Jayne Beatty, and my trainer, Si Bishop,” MacDonald said. ”I started track thanks to coach Doucette, my seventh grade history teacher who was also the track coach. Jayne Beatty has been with me just as long, being the master behind my technique and teaching me almost everything I know about the sport.
“I also love training after school four days a week with Si Bishop, who helps me get stronger every day and teaches me everything I know about weightlifting. I am so grateful for all these mentors who have been with me throughout my athletic journey.”
While MacDonald has been coached and helped out by an assortment of talented coaches and trainers, the one person who has been a tremendous influence on his track career has been Doucette.
Doucette was MacDonald’s history teacher in middle school who strongly encouraged him to start throwing at that time. Doucette is retired from teaching but serves as the throwing coach at the high school.
“Alex has been hard at work becoming a better thrower since his middle school years,” Doucette said. “His improvement over his high school years has been a direct reflection of his hard work and dedication to the sport.
“Alex will do whatever it takes to become a better thrower. This includes year-round throwing and strength training. At the end of last year, when we examined his needs, we felt that a strong offseason lifting program was needed. He jumped right in and has been hard at work getting stronger since then.”
Doucette believes MacDonald’s outstanding work ethic and dedication to the sport will lead to a successful senior season.
“There are many talented throwers in Pennsylvania, so I don’t like to put expectations on Alex,” Doucette said. “That being said, I know Alex will give his best effort and that should take him places this year. I expect to see him on many podiums.
“And I look forward to seeing Alex continue to improve as he continues his career at Amherst. To be thrown into a place with athletes with more experience than he has will just drive Alex to become an even better thrower and expert in the event.”
MacDonald will leave behind a stellar legacy when he graduates from QV.
“We will definitely miss Alex after this season as a leader at Quaker Valley,” Doucette said, “but I am excited for his journey to continue to even bigger and better things.”
Tags: Quaker Valley
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