Shaughn McDonald performed in front of large crowds numerous times during his volleyball career at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School.
McDonald's final performance in front of a crowd at the Moon-based high school was much different, as he delivered the valedictory address for the OLSH "Class of 2014" commencement exercises.
"I was more nervous for that speech than any volleyball match I've played," McDonald said. "Fortunately, the speech went very well."
The same is true for McDonald's volleyball career. He was voted first-team All-WPIAL Class AA all four years that he played for the Chargers and will presumably be a three-time member of the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association All-State Team. The 2014 PVCA All-State Team hasn't been announced yet, but McDonald was selected the past two years, so it would be a huge surprise if he didn't appear for a third time.
"My wife and I are so proud of what Shaughn was able to accomplish during his high school career as an athlete and as a student," said Mike McDonald, Shaughn's father and volleyball coach. "Having him deliver the valedictorian speech was a great way to end his four years at OLSH."
Shaughn McDonald was one of six members of the Chargers volleyball team who graduated on Sunday.
"Five of the six were starters, so we have some rebuilding to do for next year," coach McDonald said.
The 2014 Chargers squad turned in the best season in school history. They tied for second place with Beaver County Christian School in Section 1 and placed third in the WPIAL Class AA tournament, thus earning their second consecutive berth in the PIAA tournament.
"Last year, we were a Cinderella story as we came on at the end of the season and qualified for the state tournament," Mike McDonald said. "This year, we were a serious contender all year long."
OLSH almost pulled a major upset in the opening round of the PIAA tournament. The Chargers posted victories of 26-24 and 25-23 in the first and third sets against Cochranton, the District 10 champion and tournament favorite. Cochranton rebounded with wins of 25-15 and 25-19 in the second and fourth sets, then pulled out the final set, 15-9, to avoid the upset.
"I told the kids that we all hate losing and that I'm disappointed for you, but not disappointed in you," coach McDonald said. "They were just a slight bit better than us. That says a lot about our team because most of our kids have two years or fewer of volleyball experience. Cochranton's whole team has been playing volleyball since sixth grade.
"A lot of people thought we would be three and out against Cochranton. We actually had a shot to win at the end, but just couldn't close it out. That's something to be proud of."
The other five seniors on McDonalds' squad are outside hitter Alex Ritter, middle hitter Nick Metz, opposite Kendall Paige, setter Ian Alexander and serving specialist Jay Pflugh. Ritter was voted second-team All-WPIAL for the second consecutive year. Paige was voted to the third team for the first time.
Shaughn McDonald's high school career may be over, but his volleyball career is far from finished. He has accepted a scholarship from Saint Francis University in Loretto.
"I am looking forward to the next phase of my career, playing at Saint Francis," Shaughn McDonald said.
"The biggest thing for me will be that I have to really compete and perform at a high level to get on the floor in college, as I will be competing with some very good players. That's a challenge I am willing to accept."
The McDonald family will also be making two trips to the midwest for volleyball.
"Shaughn will be playing for the Pittsburgh Volleyball Club at the 35th annual United States Boys' Junior National Volleyball Championships, which will take place June 28 through July 5 in Houston, Texas," coach McDonald said. "This will be his ninth trip to nationals."
McDonald has also been chosen to participate in the USA Volleyball High Performance Tournament, July 17-27 in Tulsa, Okla.
"This will be Shaughn's third appearance at the High Performance tournament," Mike McDonald said. "We've been doing a lot of traveling with Shaughn, but it's a great way to see the country."