September 2020

Former MDCC Women’s Basketball Coach Honored with Fully Endowed Scholarship

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As a child, Burnadette McDonald learned valuable lessons from her mother about hard work. As an athlete, she learned how to combine that hard work into winning. As a coach, she put it all together and helped mold athletes into hard working achievers both on and off the court. Now all of that dedication, hard work and talent has been honored with a fully endowed scholarship – the MDCC Burnadette McDonald Scholarship.

The scholarship will be awarded to an inaugural student in the fall of 2021. McDonald grew up in central Mississippi and then teamed up with her eventual
mentor, Hall of Fame and Three-time National Championship winning Coach Lloyd Clark to rebuild the legendary Lady Statesmen program.

After her playing days she joined Clark’s bench as an assistant before taking over the MDCC women’s basketball program in 1999. The retired coach had no idea of the honor until her former coach gave her a call.

“I was just knocked off my feet. I was overwhelmed,” Coach McDonald said. “I was surprised and had no idea that would ever be even thought of. I was filled with joy.”

In his usual coaching manner, he informed McDonald of the decision.

“He called me and told me they were doing it. We didn’t really discuss it,” she said. “He’s been like a father to me. Even when he was my boss, he was like a father to me.” She said.

But it was her hard-working mother that helped her daughter cement her path to excellence and eventually the scholarship honor.

“She was our rock and she led by example. She worked two jobs to make sure we had clothes and shoes for the seven of us. She was beautiful and she was our everything,” Coach McDonald said. “Hard work and doing your best and treating people the way they are supposed to be treated are the principles that she taught us and we all still try to live by those today.”

The scholarship idea came to be when three life-long Sunflower County friends – Coach Clark, Mickey Thompson and Charlie McGuffee came up with the idea. McGuffee’s non-profit raises funds for many Delta causes including scholarships at Delta State University. Thompson serves on the MDCC Board of Trustees for the past 30 years and has followed her career since she arrived at Delta State.

“Burnadette has been a friend for a long time and I was excited when she took the job at Moorhead,” Thompson said. “We’ve always been good friends.”

McGuffee, executive director of Delta Regional Foundation, was visiting with Thompson when the endowed scholarship idea was born.

“We’re starting out with a $15,000 endowment,” McGuffee said. “Our plans are to get it up to $25,000.”

Coach Clark knows there’s no better coach and player to honor with the scholarship.
“You endow that name and it’s always going to be there into perpetuity,” he said. “And that Burnadette scholarship will be at Mississippi Delta Community College forever. She deserves every bit of it too. She’s a wonderful human being when you get right down to it.”

In looking at her coaching career, she calls out her team winning the state championship in 2005 as a highlight. But it was always more than just winning on the court.

“My coaching experience as a whole has been wonderful. Having the opportunity to touch young lives. Hopefully they left me better than they came. I tried to instill a lot in them. I’ve been blessed as a player and a coach. God has really blessed me.”

Coach Clark and McDonald first became aware of each other when he coached against her on the high school level. Clark was at Warren Central and McDonald was a stand-out player at Madison-Ridgeland High School. He designed some full court heated defense but she still managed to put up a bevy of points.

“I’d drop about 30 on them (laughing) and as soon as he got the job at Delta State, he came after me. We came in there together. I was the first player he recruited,” Coach McDonald said. “Then I had an opportunity to work for him as his assistant and that’s why he means so much to me.”

Coach Clark was happy to get the talented player on his team.

“That was a great sign for us and we were Division 1 at that time,” he said. “She was a great player. At the time I didn’t realize she was such a fine individual but it didn’t take long. She started as a freshman and we grew up together on the college level.”

McDonald worked as a graduate assistant for two years while earning her master’s and then left for a year before Clark called her back home. Clark had picked up one National Championship and with McDonald on board, they hung two more National Championship banners in Walter Sillers Coliseum. They both are enshrined in the Delta State University Athletic Hall of Fame. McDonald in 2002 and Clark in 2003.

“About the time I hung up the phone she was knocking on the door,” Clark said. “She did a great job. I’d imagine if they (MDCC) have a Hall of Fame, she’s going to be in it. She’s very modest and won’t tell you things like that. If there’s ever been a person who deserves anything she gets, it’s Burnadette McDonald. She came from a family where they are all just like her. If you ever meet her mother, you’d know exactly why Burnadette is like she is. Her mother is fine individual and still lives right there in Madison.”

Coach Clark did have one memory from McDonald’s playing career that he enjoys kidding her about. In a game against heated rival Mississippi College, McDonald was having a light’s out game.

“Burnadette went 18-for-19 and the only one she missed – she had a wide-open layup and she’s was going to take the ball around her body and she missed it. She looked over at me as soon as she missed and she knew she shouldn’t have done it,” he said with a laugh. “She and I still laugh about that.”

Both Clark and McDonald are in the Delta State University Hall of Fame. After her retirement from the coaching ranks, McDonald moved into administration as MDCC’s assistant athletic director. She’s still helping players achieve their potential.

“I serve as Division Chair of the HPER Department and I still teach Community Health. I’m responsible for games and game set ups. I’m the go between for the coach and the Athletic Director,” she said.

 Some of McDonald’s playing career achievements include:
 – DSU Women’s Basketball HOF 2002
 – 95-20 team record while at Delta State
 – 4 year letter winner
 – One of the Lady Statesmen’s top clutch basketball players
 – Played in 2 NCAA Semi-Final games: 1986, 1987
 – #9 in career scoring: 1,538 points
 – #10 in career steals: 188
 – All-Gulf South Conference: 1986, 1987
 – DSU’s assistant basketball coach: 1990-98.

Burnadette McDonald, a true Statesmen and Trojan, endowed forever for generations to come.

If you’d like to learn how to endow a scholarship or contribute to an existing one, please contact Jim Aycock, MDCC Foundation and Alumni, at 662.246.6274.