Long before Catonsville High’s Mike Mohler got a chance to coach Lauren McDonald on the varsity basketball team, his wife, Bridget, a teacher at Catonsville Elementary School, knew he was going to get a special athlete.
“She told me, ‘You’ve got to stick around for this one, she is going to be one of the best athletes in the school,’ ” Mohler said.
McDonald was in the second grade at the time. And Bridget was correct.
McDonald was selected along with classmate Jenn Nonn, as the Catonsville Times Female Co-Athlete of the Year.
Both juniors played soccer, basketball and lacrosse, and both plan to play lacrosse in college.
McDonald will play at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Nonn plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University.
Mohler is happy to have McDonald for one more season after she tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason soccer scrimmage before her sophomore season. “Not having her that year was a huge loss to us,” Mohler said.
What he got this past year for the 22-14 Comets who lost in the regional finals at Paint Branch was a hard worker who often guarded the opposing team’s top scorer while doing all the little things to help the team win.
“Whatever she is going to do she is going to give 120 percent,” Mohler said.
Whether it was a key rebound, defensive stop, deflection or three pointer McDonald was capable of delivering it a key moment.
Assistant coach Rich Hunt saw that in the Comets’ 40-37 regional basketball quarterfinal playoff win over Western when she made what he said was “the best rebound I’ve have ever seen.”
McDonald got the carom among the trees and converted a putback to give the Comets a 39-32 lead with just over four minutes left.
“That was an unbelievable rebound she got against Western that iced the game,” Mohler said.
When Mohler asked her to guard the toughest scorer, she never backed down.
“It was a badge of honor for her,” Mohler said. “Not everybody wants to take that role, but she relished it.”
Mohler also enjoyed watching her play lacrosse and feels she will excel at the next level.
“She has a sense and understanding of the game and when she goes to college to play lacrosse, she is going to be a real leader,” he said. “And she brings a great attitude.”
The coach admits he’s thankful to have her on the basketball team for one more year before she starts her collegiate lacrosse career.
Although James Fitzpatrick retired from coaching, after leading the Comet soccer team to its best season in school history, he will surely be around to watch McDonald play her senior year when he takes over for Bill Nelson as the new athletic director.
McDonald proved she could handle various roles last season when she moved from midfield to goalie after starting keeper Natalie Croom suffered a concussion in early October.
After moving to goal, she was part of a defense that had five shutouts and allowed just eight goals during an 18-2 season that included county and regional titles and a berth in the state championship game which they lost to Walt Whitman 2-0.