FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University athletic director Murray Hartzler announced on Thursday (March 9) the hiring of Paul MacDonald of Hiawatha, Iowa, as the university’s new head coach for women’s volleyball.
MacDonald, 33, replaces Sonny Kirkpatrick, who resigned after six seasons to become the head coach at NCAA Division I Troy University.
“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to hire someone the caliber of Paul to guide our program,” Hartzler said. “He possesses all the qualities we are looking for in a coach, and he should be able to step in and immediately build on the solid foundation that Sonny Kirkpatrick established.”
The Patriots lose three seniors off last season’s 29-11 squad that won the 2005 Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship, and earned the program’s second-ever NCAA Division II national tournament bid. The 29 victories represented the fourth-highest win total in team history.
MacDonald comes to FMU from Mount Mercy College, an NAIA school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In three seasons directing the Mustang program, he compiled a 49-49 record, including a 25-11 mark this past fall – the team’s best record in more than a decade. Utilizing a roster that did not include any seniors, he also guided Mount Mercy to a second-place finish in the Midwest Classic Conference with a 6-1 record and to a spot in the NAIA Region VII Tournament for the first time since 2002. For that effort, he received conference “Coach of the Year” honors.
A native of Flat Rock, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, MacDonald earned a B.A. degree in business from Michigan State University and an M.Ed. degree in physical education from Wayne State University.
Prior to accepting the position at Mount Mercy, he was an assistant coach at Division II Wayne State for the 2002 season, an assistant coach at Macomb County Community College for the 2001 campaign, and was an assistant and interim head coach during the 1999 season at Oakland University.
MacDonald was a court coach at the junior national team tryouts under the USA National Olympic Development Program in 2004 and 2005. He has five years of experience coaching at the high school level – including winning a district championship at Regina High School in Harper Woods, Mich. – and seven years of experience coaching at the Junior Olympics and club level. His Junior Olympic squads placed first in the state of Michigan in 1998 and third in 2002.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” MacDonald said. “The people I met at FMU exuded an ambitious feeling about the volleyball program, a feeling that volleyball was an important part of the overall athletic program. I was also impressed with the attention given to academics at Francis Marion, and that the term student-athlete is taken seriously at the school.
“I will be new to the area, but I am familiar with how competitive and challenging Division II volleyball can be. I am excited about entering the strong Peach Belt Conference, and look forward to working with the group of returning players from last year’s tournament championship squad.”
MacDonald becomes the 13th head coach in the 33-year history of the Francis Marion program. The program boasts a .559 winning percentage (640-505 all-time record).