Dan McDonald is known for keeping his composure.
Nothing appears to rattle the Louisiana native, who has spent four-plus decades earning a reputation as one of the state's most accomplished and professional sports media figures.
That work ethic and approach helped make McDonald one of the state’s most recognizable figures in sports journalism. On Saturday, the longtime UL-Lafayette sports information director and Acadiana-area journalist will inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism.
“I almost cried when I found out he was being inducted,” UL-Lafayette radio announcer Jay Walker said. “Dan has never been in this for any personal recognition. As a matter of fact, I think sometimes it almost embarrasses him but I can’t think of anyone in journalism that deserves this more.”
McDonald’s career took root when he was still a teenager growing up in north Louisiana, where he worked for his hometown’s weekly newspaper, The Jackson Independent, and local radio station KTOC-AM in Jonesboro. While in high school, he handled scoring, public address and posted weekly statistics and stories in the Jackson Independent for the local youth baseball league.
After graduating from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in 1972, McDonald went on to study at Northwestern State. He honed his craft working as a student assistant, writing and editing for the student newspaper, The Current Sauce, and helping launch NSU’s first radio station, KNSU, now known as KNWD. When iconic musician Jim Croce perished in a plane crash after a concert on campus, McDonald’s coverage was picked up by Rolling Stone, among others.
After graduating in three years, McDonald joined the sports department at the Alexandria Town Talk in 1975 and worked under legendary sports editor Bill Carter.
McDonald’s time in Alexandria was short-lived, as after a year his alma mater came calling.
McDonald became the Northwestern State SID at 21, making him the youngest at any Division I program.
McDonald left NSU in the summer of 1980 for the same position at then-USL. That is where he remained until 1999, winning numerous awards for his brochures, fact sheets and, of course, writing.
“If God created a better sports information director than Dan then He must have kept him himself,” said 2015 DSA recipient Glenn Quebedeaux, former sports editor of the Daily Iberian in New Iberia.
During his tenure at USL, McDonald also served as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee media relations staff for two summer games (Seoul in 1988, Atlanta in 1996), and six U.S. Olympic Festivals. In 2011, he was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame.
McDonald eventually retired from the SID world in 1999, but he had no intentions of slowing down.
McDonald joined the sports department of The (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser and captured 31 LSWA writing awards in his nine years at the paper, including three “Writer of the Year” honors in a five-year span. He also received a national “Best of Gannett” award for his coverage of the 2005 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
McDonald left The Daily Advertiser in 2008 and became vice-president of McD Media, Inc., a marketing and public relations firm founded by his wife, Mary Beth. In addition to his role with McD Media, McDonald works as a freelance sports journalist, including earning his fourth LSWA Sports Writer of the Year honor in 2011, and doing extensive broadcast and television work, including anchoring annual webcasts of Sun Belt Conference baseball, softball and golf tournaments.
In addition, McDonald has served as media relations director for the Web.com Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana open, chairman of the Bill Bass Open fundraiser tournament for the ULL golf team, co-chairman for LHSAA state high school golf tournaments held in Acadiana, served as vice president and president of the LSWA, and remains a key member of both the LSWA Executive Committee and Hall of Fame Committee.
In 1999, McDonald received the LSWA’s esteemed Mac Russo Award, which recognizes those members who represent the ideals of the organization — an award that was also bestowed on his wife Mary Beth in 2015.
For those who worked with McDonald and consider him a friend, they proudly say that those ideals go far beyond his life’s work.
“When my wife Barbara passed away in 2012, I was devastated," said Bruce Brown, the former longtime sports editor at The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette. "She had always handled our finances in our marriage and I was allowed to write about sports my whole life. One of the things I knew I had to do was find someone that could take care of that, like a CPA for my taxes, or a money person for my finances.
“I always trusted Dan and he guided me through that. They got me straightened out and got me on the right track. That crisis was averted because of Dan. That is the kind of trust I have in him as a friend. He would never steer me wrong."