It has taken three football seasons, but the McDonald brothers are back playing football on the same team again.
The last time Jack and Grant were on the same team, they won a provincial championship with the South Delta Sun Devils. The University of Calgary Dinos hope both McDonalds can help them win a championship in 2018.
With just 26 months between them, Jack and Grant spent several seasons playing youth and high school football together growing up in Tsawwassen. The McDonald brothers are one of four brother combinations on the Dinos football team this season.
Both had decorated high school careers, being provincial all-stars, and were recruited by numerous U Sports schools.
They went their separate ways in 2015. Jack joined the Dinos, with Grant remaining home to complete his secondary studies. Upon high school graduation in 2017, Grant received several NCAA Division-I scholarship offers, eventually enrolling at the University of Maine.
University of Calgary head coach Wayne Harris told Grant the door was open to come back to Calgary if desired, and his patience paid dividends. Grant transferred to Calgary this season to join Jack, who is in his fourth year of eligibility.
The McDonald brothers live together. On the football field they compete against one another in practice with Jack playing offence as a slotback and Grant lining up on defence at middle linebacker.
“I try to avoid (Grant) in practice, so we do not come across each other that often,” laughed Jack, a fourth-year student in the Haskayne School of Business.
“We have competed our entire life together and continue to compete,” added Grant.
“It is awesome to practice against him and now have him back on the same team,” said Jack who won the Murray Fraser Award in 2017-18. Named in honour of the late Murray Fraser, President of the University of Calgary, the award goes to a student that contributes to the community. Jack coordinates visits with several other Dinos football players to the Alberta Children's Hospital throughout the season.
Football is part of the McDonald genes. Their father Bruce was a five-year starter at UBC in the secondary and was one of the captains on the Thunderbirds' 1986 Vanier Cup championship team. He was part of the rivalry between Calgary and UBC in the mid-1980s.
“Being a former captain and alumnus of the UBC football program, it certainly made me pause when my oldest (Jack) chose to attend our biggest rival program at the University of Calgary,” said Bruce, who remains involved in youth football as a coach at South Delta under head coach Ray Moon. “But it didn't take long for me to experience the great community and family atmosphere that embodies the Dinos program. We have been so welcomed into the Dino football family, and I am truly grateful for the experience.
“When it came time for my second son to choose a program, it really was an easy decision for him based on the positive experiences of his older brother. My wife and I get great comfort knowing that our kids are contributing to an elite program, striving to be their best under the guidance of a staff that is highly principled, knowledgeable and caring about the boys over and above what takes place on the football field. I think it is this philosophy of excellence, coupled with fostering a team atmosphere where the boys are making lifetime friends is what makes this program so special.”