Ursuline two-sport standout to play at NCAA D-II arts school

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Realizing her dream to attend arts school, Haily MacDonald also will take her twin passions of softball and soccer from Ursuline High to Academy of Art University.

Haily MacDonald (Press Democrat photo)

The San Francisco school wasn’t on her initial selection map, but MacDonald said the choice was easy when the NCAA Division II program in the Pac West Conference recruited her for both teams.

“The two sports narrowed my choice down. And San Francisco is close to home. It just seemed like a great fit,” MacDonald said.

An All-Empire pitcher and shortstop, MacDonald also was an All-North Bay League soccer standout who played every position for the Bears. MacDonald will play outfield for the Urban Knights, and in soccer she will be an outside back.

“She works hard, wants to learn and get better every day, which combined with her speed and versatility from the left side makes her a perfect fit for our program,” said softball coach Rachel Sherman. “Haily is the kind of kid who makes those around her better and will push everyone to step up their game and work harder. “

After making a campus visit with the softball team, MacDonald was contacted by soccer coach Aileen Nasypany.

“Haily will bring a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and versatility position wise to my roster. Becoming an artist-athlete has been Haily’s desire from the start and I am excited to be part of her growth along this path,” Nasypany said.

MacDonald also played basketball at Ursuline, a year each on the junior varsity and varsity before dropping the sport her junior year.

Softball’s combination of grace and grit made it MacDonald’s main sport. She has played on travel teams during summers.

But soccer’s physical play and how it keeps her in shape kept MacDonald coming back in the fall.

 “I just couldn’t pick between the two,” she said.

When looking at college, though, she wanted an arts school where she could play softball.

An artist since she could hold a crayon, MacDonald has taken classes in and out of school since sixth grade. She painted a mural at Willowside Middle School and illustrated program covers for various high school events. She completed AP studio art at Ursuline.

Academy of Art appealed to her because of its location in San Francisco. Spread among buildings connected by shuttle buses, the school also has far flung facilities for its athletic teams. Soccer plays on Treasure Island. The softball facility is in Brisbane.

“It’s not your typical, traditional campus, but I think it’s great for an arts school. There’s a lot of inspiration down there with the business and commotion of the city,” MacDonald said. “It’s an experience living in the city. I’m excited.”