Phil McDonald: A Passion for High School Sports Comes Full Circle

For almost 36 years, Phil McDonald has been covering High School Sports for WSJM News/Talk/Sports 94.9.  Starting next week, he’ll be the new Athletic Director for Lake Michigan Catholic Schools–his alma mater.  It’s a storybook tale of following your passion, doing what’s right, and always giving without expecting anything in return.  MoodyOnTheMarket sat down with McDonald in his WSJM Sports studio on Napier Avenue in Benton Township.  And he said, “It’s hard to believe it’s happening!”

“Sometimes people asked me what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing Sports on the radio.  And I’d say ‘I don’t know… maybe a Sports Information Director at a college or an Athletic Director at a High School’,”Phil said.  “And now it’s happening.  I’m so excited.   I get to help the kids and grow the program at LMC.”

Lake Michigan Catholic is near and dear to Phil’s heart.  He graduated in the Class of  1983, then from Albion College (1987).  While he’s been a fulltime radio air personality , first on WSJM and then on 98.3 The Coast WCXT, his passion has been for high school sports play-by-play broadcasts.  Phil recalls beginning his career “in the booth” alongside WSJM’s Joe Borenstein and has had several broadcast partners over the years.  His current side-kick, Bret Witkowski, is known for his excitement and partisanship, especially for the St. Joseph Bears.  Phil’s style, on the other hand, is steady and straight-forward.  But he recalls some particularly exciting high points in his play-by-play career.

Two state basketball championships that came home to SW Michigan-30 years apart–stand out in Phil’s mind.  “The LMC Girls beat Ontonogon 41-39 in 1988.   And in 2018, the Benton Harbor Boys beat Grand Rapids Catholic Central 65-64 in overtime!”, he said. “Those are probably the most memorable that I broadcast.”

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Another “labor of love” for Phil McDonald has been his stewardship of the WSJM Student Athlete of the Week program.  Phil has put in countless hours behind the scenes organizing and administering the program that weekly honors a male and female Student Athlete, then annually brings them all together for a banquet and Athlete of the Year awards.  He truly loves the kids and their accomplishments.  He’s now well into the second generation of weekly winners and considers some of them “like family.”  “I know the kids, I know the parents, I love what they do.”

It’s that level of success that Phil wants for Lake Michigan Catholic’s athletic program going forward.  He acknowledges there have been ups and downs over the years.  He points to the thrill of victory with the football program of Coach Terry Rose and later success with the teams coached by Phil Brooks.  He vows to work first on student athlete participation levels, leading to more competitive teams, then finally to LMC championship trophies.  “I want LMC to be more than competitive, I want it to be looked up to!”

The MOTM team as well as our associates at WSJM News/Talk/Sports  and Mid-West Family SW Michigan wish Phil McDonald “All the Best” in his new role.  We thank him for 36 years of outstanding service to our community and our company.