Note: This is the first of four major FSU Athletics Awards that will be presented between now and July 20 for the 2016-17 campaign. The remaining awards will be announced over the course of this week.
Big Rapids, Mich. - After overcoming a significant injury late in his junior campaign, a Ferris State University men's ice hockey student-athlete returned to the ice and has been chosen as the recipient of Ferris State Athletics' Jimmy Swears Courage Award. Senior forward Chad McDonald (Battle Creek) of the Bulldog Hockey program was chosen as the honoree of the prestigious award for the recently-completed 2016-17 campaign.
The Jimmy Swears Courage Award is presented to a deserving student or current personnel within the Bulldog Athletics program, who when confronted with a life-altering or difficult situation, has used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the odds while inspiring others.
"Chad McDonald is an outstanding choice as the Jimmy Swears Courage Award recipient," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "He returned from injury through hard work and rehabilitation to be a key contributor on the ice for our hockey program while also being chosen as the WCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for his efforts in the classroom and community. Chad should be extremely proud of his accomplishments and we are honored to name him as the recipient of the Jimmy Swears Courage Award."
McDonald became the first-ever Bulldog skater to be recognized as the WCHA's Student-Athlete of the Year as a senior in 2016-17. The honor is voted upon by the Faculty Athletics Representatives of the league's 10 member institutions.
The veteran skater, who recently signed a professional contract to play overseas in France this coming year, was a four-year contributor to one of the WCHA's top programs, helping Ferris State to a MacNaughton Cup as league regular season champions, a Broadmoor Trophy as postseason champs and a pair of appearances in an NCAA Tournament regional final. The Battle Creek, Mich., native scored 38 goals with 46 assists for 84 points in 145 collegiate games, reaching the 20-point mark in three of his four seasons.
After suffering a season-ending elbow injury in the 2016 WCHA Final Five and missing the NCAA Tournament, McDonald went through surgery and rehabilitation in time to return to the ice for Ferris State's 2016-17 season opener. A leader in all facets, he was selected by his peers to serve as one of the Bulldogs' assistant captains for his senior campaign.
"We're extremely proud of Chad's accomplishments as a student-athlete at Ferris State both on the ice and in the classroom," said FSU head coach Bob Daniels. "He came back from an injury to have yet another highly-productive season as a senior while serving as one of our captains. He has been a leader on our squad and a valuable member of the program who's certainly deserving of the recognition."
McDonald graduated in May with a B.S. in Business Administration, an A.S. in Legal Studies and a Certificate in data mining. Often found tutoring teammates, he helped inspire a Ferris State team that ranked among the nation's top-10 teams in the annual NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR) in each of his four years. A three-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and All-Academic Team member, McDonald was named to the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.
Away from campus, McDonald volunteered for a variety of different organizations that help those with disabilities, both in Big Rapids (playing floor hockey with Big Rapids Special Olympians) and his native Battle Creek (serving as a mentor for Community Inclusive Recreation). In addition, he spent time speaking to fifth-grade students from low-income households about the importance of education, and what it takes academically to pursue their dream of becoming a collegiate student-athlete.
A finalist for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award, McDonald someday hopes to attend law school. He aims to pursue a career in the National Hockey League (NHL), with aspirations of one day becoming a general manager.
As a junior, prior to his injury, McDonald helped the Bulldogs claim the WCHA Final Five Championship as FSU advanced to the final eight of the NCAA Division I Tournament for the third time in five years. The Dean's List Award honoree was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs and ranked among the league leaders in several statistical categories during his collegiate career. This year, he was among the top national finalists for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award presented to the top hockey student-athlete in the country.
The Jimmy Swears Courage Award is named in honor of longtime FSU Athletics booster Jim Swears, who passed away Jan. 17, 2007, at the age of 64 following a lengthy bout with cancer. A local businessman and community activist, Swears was a strong supporter of Ferris State men's ice hockey, football, and basketball. He worked diligently to help develop and maintain FSU's status as a NCAA Division I men's ice hockey program. Additionally, Swears served on the board of directors for the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association and was an active member of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. He was the 2006 recipient of the Northern Lights Lifetime Achievement Award for business and industry in the Big Rapids (Mich.) area.
Nominees for the award are an inspiration to their peers, serve as a role model to others and are a team leader while responding to adversity. Those individuals nominated for the award must be involved with the Bulldog intercollegiate athletics program and possibly include student-athletes, student managers, student coaches and/or student athletic trainers in addition to current athletics department personnel.
"We're honored to be able to present these year-end awards and extremely pleased as an athletic department to be able to honor our outstanding student-athletes and people with awards named after individuals who have played such a big part in the history and tradition of Bulldog Athletics," said Weisenburger.
McDonald becomes the ninth-ever winner of the Jimmy Swears Courage Award and the fourth men's ice hockey player to earn the recognition. Former women's basketball guard Kylie Muntz is the only two-time winner of the prestigious honor, making this year's honor the 10th time overall in which the award has been bestowed.
The other nominees for this year's honor included former men's basketball player & coach Raymoan McAfee and Bulldog Volleyball's Jenna Way.
Jimmy Swears Courage Award Recipients
2016-17 - Chad McDonald (Men's Ice Hockey)
2015-16 - James Chappell (Men's Basketball)
2014-15 - Simon Denis (Men's Ice Hockey)
2013-14 - Will Huntington (Men's Tennis)
2012-13 - Kylie Muntz (Women's Basketball)
2011-12 - Kylie Muntz (Women's Basketball)
2010-11 - Natalie Diorio (Women's Tennis)
2009-10 - Richard Weisenberger (Men's Golf)
2008-09 - Aaron Lewicki (Men's Ice Hockey)
2007-08 - No recipient
2006-07 - Mark Bomersback (Men's Ice Hockey)