Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the “C” You in the Major Leagues Foundation (CYITML) have announced longtime high school baseball coach Bill McDonald as the April Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree.
For 42 years, McDonald served as a head baseball coach at high schools in Johnson County, leading the charge at Shawnee Mission South from 1974-2001 and at Blue Valley West from 2001-2015. Now a P.E. teacher at Blue Valley West, McDonald serves as a volunteer assistant for his son John, the head baseball coach at Olathe East High School.
“I want to thank Blue KC and the CYITML for the honor because it represents the reasons why I have coached so long,” said McDonald. “Making character an important part of our player and team development is a must for our youth of today. If you model character traits to the young people you serve, then when they call you ‘coach’ that really has meaning.”
Selected from nominations submitted by fans, with one honoree announced each month throughout the 2018 MLB season, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree will be interviewed on 810 WHB, receive a VIP gift package from Blue KC and CYITML and will be invited to meet Royals General Manager and CYITML Founder Dayton Moore at an event in September at Kauffman Stadium. Additionally, Blue KC will make a $2,000 donation to CYITML in honor of each selected coach.
“The mark of a character coach is one who has a passion for helping his or her athletes reach their potential off the field or court,” Moore said. “I’ve known Coach McDonald, as well as some of his former players, for several years, and he has that passion. He cares deeply for his players and for growing the game of baseball. His success on the field for more than 40 years is a direct reflection of those two traits.”
Known for his positive influence on student-athletes throughout his career, McDonald was nominated by Kansas City sports media personality Dave Stewart, who played for McDonald at Shawnee Mission South.
“Out of all the role models in my life, next to my dad and two grandfathers, I would put Coach McDonald on that short list as the most impactful,” said Stewart, who now helps the McDonalds as an assistant coach at Olathe East. “Values he taught me in high school are still relevant and often repeated by me. He has so much knowledge and love for baseball he wants to share with the kids, and that’s why he is still coaching. It’s that simple.”
When it comes to the lessons he works to instill in his players, McDonald includes overcoming adversity at the top of his list, while also citing responsibility, respect, servant leadership, integrity, sportsmanship and the ability to be a responsible teammate. His goal is that each of them would develop the kind of character that would enable them eventually to be great husbands and fathers.
“I’m always placing in front of the players to be loyal, caring people,” said McDonald, who led his teams to six Kansas State titles and eight second-place State finishes, while earning a slew of coach of the year honors. “For me coaching is two parts: First, what have I taught them about themselves while I have them? And second, the reward of seeing what I have taught them when they enter the real world.”
A joint venture for Blue KC and CYITML, the Blue KC Coaches with Character program spotlights amateur coaches who, through their leadership on and off the field, are helping to grow youth sports in the Kansas City area, and making the community a better place to live, work and play.
“Our goal with the Blue KC Coaches with Character program is to recognize local coaches who make Kansas City better through their efforts in advancing youth sports,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Blue KC. “We’re thrilled to honor Coach McDonald as our first Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree of the season. He has made a lasting impact on Kansas City-area student-athletes for nearly five decades.”
Throughout the season, Blue KC and CYITML will select five more area coaches to be recognized as Blue KC Coaches with Character. All honorees will be chosen based on nominations from the public, which will be accepted until early September.
Those who would like to nominate an amateur coach from the KC area for Blue KC Coaches with Character are encouraged to visit CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org/bluekc.