You probably had no idea.
You wouldn’t think that a man so happy and upbeat could have every reason to be upset. You wouldn’t think that a man so outgoing and friendly would have struggled to get there. It wouldn’t add up.
For Bryan MacDonald, it adds up perfectly.
MacDonald, known as B-Mac to his friends, is the life and blood of the Springfield College football team. Last season, coaches said that if Hard Knocks, the HBO series that follows an NFL team through preseason, ever came to Springfield, MacDonald would need a mic.
You’d be doing a disservice if you didn’t give him a mic. Wherever MacDonald goes, smiles and laughs aren’t far behind. He will joke about everything, ranging from a teammate’s awkward picture, to his own bald head.
“You never see him down,” said teammate Mike MacDonald. “Even when he’s in a bad spot, he jokes about it. He’s laughing about it. It doesn’t affect him at all. He’s a strong individual.”
During practices, Bryan MacDonald will grab the attention of the cameraman and begin talking to the camera while stretching, as if he were filming a workout DVD.
MacDonald never hesitates to say “hi” to the underclassmen whenever he sees them on campus, making a point to make them feel like a part of the football team and the campus community.
“If I was a new kid, I would want an upperclassman to say, “What up?” to me, start a conversation,” MacDonald said. “That’s who I am as a person.”
You would think that with a personality so infectious that MacDonald never struggled to fit in. Think again.
Growing up, MacDonald was constantly on the move. Originally from Chicago, MacDonald moved to Indiana, to New York, to Connecticut, and then back to Chicago before settling down in Rocky Hill, Conn. for high school. Because of his constant moves, MacDonald struggled to find the one childhood friend he could bond with.
“I never really made a friend growing up that I could have for a long time,” remembered MacDonald. “As I grew up I was my own person. I didn’t have that many childhood friends. When I got to high school and college, I wanted to make friends that I would have for the rest of my life.”
In high school, MacDonald began to find himself, claiming the starting quarterback role at Rocky Hill before attending Springfield.
Once at Springfield, MacDonald was asked to change positions from quarterback, a move that he didn’t embrace at first.
“When I came to Springfield, I saw myself as a quarterback, so when I first got moved, I was upset,” said MacDonald. “But I got over it.”
The position changes haven’t stopped since. Over the course of MacDonald’s four-year career at Springfield, he has played nearly every offensive position except lineman. He has moved from quarterback, to running back, to fullback, and to wide receiver. He’s also taken care of both punt and kick return duties while serving as the extra point holder.
“He is truly a selfless player who will do whatever it takes for this team and his teammates,” offensive coordinator Mike Cerasuolo said. “We talk a lot about knowing your role, and Bryan has never questioned anything, and he wants to help anywhere he can. He understands it’s bigger than him.”
While MacDonald has worked hard to find a home on the football team, the only thing as constant as his personality has been his condition.
MacDonald was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia, a condition where the heart beats abnormally fast at random times. He has had to learn to cope with the condition.
SVT tends to flare up during physical activity, giving MacDonald the sensation of a heart attack when he is on the field.
“The first time it happened, I was playing little league [baseball],” said MacDonald. “I hit a double and I was standing on second base. It felt like I was having a heart attack. I thought I was going to die.”
Now, however, MacDonald knows how to calm himself and move past the moment.
“I come out for a play and I shut my eyes,” MacDonald said. “I slow my breathing and I tell myself I’m going to be fine.”
Through thick and thin, MacDonald has found ways to come out on top, often resulting in him helping others.
Last spring, MacDonald wrote a song for the Be The Match program. Be The Match is a bone marrow registry that helps find matches for patients suffering from blood cancers, leukemia and lymphoma.
MacDonald is well-known for his music, writing remixes to popular songs as well as writing songs related to events at Springfield College, but the Be The Match song was the first emotional song MacDonald said he released.
“I wanted to find a new way to raise awareness,” said MacDonald. “I’ve known people who have had lymphoma and other blood cancers. My goal was to be, after [people] hear the song, they would be like, ‘Wow, I want to help now.’”
MacDonald went on to multiple television stations to perform his song and to help raise the awareness of Be The Match in hopes that it would help others in need.
“That’s B-Mac,” said running back coach Ryan Gunningsmith, who coached MacDonald last season as a halfback. “It shows who he was. He had a chance to do something great. Sometimes we look past the big picture of life. [He] helped someone else. Not himself, not his teammates – he had a chance to help someone else and he ran with it.”
It doesn’t stop there. This fall, the Springfield College football team, paired with Team IMPACT, have welcomed Luke Bradley, a local grade school student suffering from Leukemia, onto the football team. Whenever Bradley shows up for practices or for games, MacDonald is one of the first people to greet him.
“[Luke] is like me,” MacDonald said. “He’s always upbeat, especially [with] what he’s going through, that says a lot about a person. We connected right off the bat.”
This season, MacDonald has been sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered mid-season. Before the injury, MacDonald had worked his way into the wide receiver rotation for the Pride, but he plans on suiting up next week for the Pride’s senior game.
Despite the injury, his attitude and impact remain the same.
“We wouldn’t be where we’re at if it weren’t for guys like B-Mac,” said Gunningsmith. “He’s one of the most unselfish people on this team. He is what this program embodies. He makes the program better every single day he is there.”
His high energy, class-clown personality has helped the team through tough times, all while he leaves an everlasting imprint on the people he meets.
“He is pretty high energy,” Cerasuolo said. “It’s pretty hard to top him. He is definitely a true individual and he brings a lot of energy. It’s been a treat, as a far as a coaching staff, to have him around. There’s not one guy who leaves this program that won’t remember Bryan MacDonald.”
MacDonald goes out of his way to help others in need, always extending his hand to cheer someone else, and being a friend to someone in need.
“He’s a best friend to everyone,” Mike MacDonald said. “He’s that kid in the crowd; you want that type of kid that nothing affects him. Whatever troubles him, he doesn’t worry about it. He wants to be your best friend through thick and thin.”
MacDonald is finishing his senior season at Springfield College. For four years, he has spread laughter and joy to the people he meets at Springfield College, taking everything in stride, while helping people be happy.
“I’ve always been big on humor,” Bryan MacDonald said. “My goal every day is to make someone laugh; that’s how I’ve been going about life for as long as I can remember. I wake up in the morning, go to bed, wake up, go to bed, I do the same thing, but in between, my goal is the same every day. I want people to smile and laugh, and that’s true happiness.”