McDonald brings more than luck to the IrishWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
New experiences have never fazed Marty McDonald. It was that thirst for adventure and attitude that led the teenager to where he is today.
“I have just always been excited by them,” he said. “I just like trying new and different things.”
It was not long ago that McDonald first picked up a basketball in his native country of Ireland. A tour promoting the sport came through his school, and McDonald could not resist seeing what the game was all about.
“Basketball is not that popular of a sport in Ireland,” he said. “Everyone played soccer at home, and basketball was new and exciting. Once my friends and I started playing, I was hooked.”
Little did he, nor CentralCatholic High School head coach Jim Welling, know that just a few years later, he would lead the Irish as the team’s starting point guard.
“I think this has worked out better than he or I ever thought it would,” Welling said.
McDonald will admit that it took a little time to work up the courage to try out for Central’s varsity basketball team. After all, he was just a few months into his senior year, in a new school, in a new land on a year-long student exchange program.
“In America, guys have been playing basketball for twice as long as I have, and I knew it would be tough for me to make the team,” McDonald said. “But when it came down to it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try and make the team. I was just hoping I did all right and didn’t embarrass myself.”
But McDonald did much better than that. He not only made Central’s basketball team, but he quickly established himself as the team’s starting point guard, a position that is key in coach Welling’s motion offense.
“Our offense is a very complex system,” Welling said. “It takes us time to teach it to 15 to 18 year old kids. But Marty does so many things well, and he was a really good fit for us.”
Despite a wealth of young talent on the court for the Irish, many pundits did not expect much from Welling’s squad. Central was picked to finish sixth in the preseason by the coaches’ poll. What has ensued, though, has surprised many fans in Toledo.
The Irish stormed out to a 7-0 start, and now sit tied for second in the City League standings with Libbey, with a record of 9-2 in league play and 16-2 overall. While some may have been caught off guard by Central’s fast start, McDonald said he and his teammates were confident they could hold their own in the City League.
“We knew with a coach like coach Welling we were going to have a chance,” he said. “We knew that coupled with the talent we had that we had a chance. I don’t think we have been surprised by any of the success.”
The surprising start has been due in large part to McDonald’s efforts on the basketball court for the Irish. The point guard has been gaining a reputation as a bit of a sharpshooter from the perimeter, and Welling feels that has been a key to the team’s success.
“Marty is probably one of the top five best three-point shooters I have ever coached in high school or at the college level,” said the former head coach of Owens Community College. “That has been so valuable to us in games because he kind of stretches the floor for us, and it creates other opportunities for us on the floor offensively.”
Welling has also been impressed with McDonald’s success in both the classroom and within the school community.
“He has quickly become one of the most popular kids in school here, and everybody loves him here,” Welling said. “He works hard in everything he does. It has been really neat to see him blossom.”