Nov. 8, 2013
By Ryan Smith, Michigan State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
As the 2013 field hockey season winds downs, there are five Spartans who will play their last game in a Spartan uniform. Mallory McDonagh is one of those who has shown up every day for four-straight years, putting her heart and soul into being a great person, teammate and student. When the clock runs out of the final game, it signifies the end of Mcdonagh's time as a Michigan State field hockey player, but surely not as a Spartan.
Growing up in New Jersey, McDonagh had never even heard of Michigan State and her mother went to the University of Michigan. After spending a few years on a club field hockey team, travel led to coaches starting to look into McDonagh as a potential recruit. When it came time to decide, a trip to various schools across the Midwest led to McDonagh setting foot in East Lansing for the first time and falling in love.
"We came to Michigan State and I remember getting here and the team camp was going on and they were blasting music. I fell in love with it," said McDonagh. "It seemed very team-oriented and a lot of fun. I felt like I fit in right away with everyone on the team which held true, because now all my best friends are on the team."
Recognizing the positive influence that strong leadership had on her as an underclassman, McDonagh has made an extra effort as a senior to be a role model for her younger teammates.
"Now as a senior this year, I have had to take on more of a leadership role and being an example outside of field hockey. I feel like it's important to communicate with the freshman. The seniors my freshman year reached out to me and I felt close to them. Now it is my turn to reach out to them and lead the way by example, something that can be huge for them."
Despite the initial excitement of coming to Michigan State, McDonagh underwent the difficult transition period that many student-athletes face involving time management.
"I definitely struggled with traveling freshman year," said McDonagh. "Having to be proactive and do things on your own was way different than coming from a small private high school where you knew everything that had to get done. The early mornings are definitely the toughest part about being an athlete. The time management is tough when you're getting up early on a cold morning in the spring to train in the offseason."
As hard as the transition may have seemed, McDonagh sure made it quick, finding the balance of being successful with her school work, social life and being an athlete. Majoring in interdisciplinary studies with subsets in interior design, web development and art history, she has been chosen two-consecutive years as an Academic All-Big Ten Selection.
"Since her freshman year, she's been the kid you've never had to ask twice," said head coach Helen Knull. "She's always shown up and worked hard. She is that way for her teammates and the coaches, which is something you can't train in someone. It is something her teammates will remember her for and I know that we will too."
On top of excelling in the classroom, McDonagh has taken the necessary steps outside of school to pursue her dream job, which she says is being an interior designer that will allow her to travel everywhere designing houses. This past summer, she had an internship where she worked as a sales associate selling houses, rentals and apartments, leading to her getting her real estate license in the state of New Jersey.
After another three-credit internship this summer, McDonagh will have officially graduated from Michigan State and will continue pursuing her dream.
"It is bitter sweet," said McDonagh. "It will be exciting to move on, but sad to leave everything behind. It's going to be weird next fall being in a job. After doing this for four years and the same thing every day, it is just going to be different."
A large part of her successes have stemmed from a tenacious work ethic and outlook that was instilled in her at a young age.
"My parents have been my biggest influence throughout my life," McDonagh said. They work so hard and have taught me to always be the best I can be and follow what I want to do, and it will all work out."
For starting out having never heard of a school, the last four years has given McDonagh a pretty good idea of what it means to be a Michigan State Spartan.
"It's been an amazing experience being a part of a school where pride is such a big thing," said McDonagh. "Everyone is so proud of being a Spartan and what it means to be a Spartan with winning teams, having confidence and being a leader."
After four years of representing Michigan State in a positive light as a student-athlete, teammate and friend, McDonagh will continue on proudly wearing the Green and White wherever she goes.
"She holds a lot of pride in being at Michigan State whether it's for field hockey, supporting other teams on campus, or wearing State gear in New Jersey," said Knull.