GSW hires former Southland Academy coach to lead university’s XC team into 2016-17 season

Published 2:59 pm Friday, July 1, 2016


AMERICUS – Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) athletic director, Mike Leeder, has recently announced the hiring of Paula McDonald as the new head coach of the GSW women’s cross country program.
“We are very excited that Paula has accepted our offer to become the next head cross country coach at GSW,” Leeder said in a press release. “Her experience building a program and developing a winning culture as a championship-level coach will allow our ladies to thrive on the course, in the classroom and in the community.”
McDonald comes to Georgia Southwestern from Southland Academy in Americus, where she most recently served in dual roles as the head boys and girls cross country coach since 2010, as well as the head girls’ basketball coach. Along with her assistant coach, Patrick Calcutt, the Southland cross country programs combined to win two Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Class AAA state championships and five region titles. In addition, she was named the GISA Class AAA Co-Coach of the Year on two occasions.
“I appreciate the opportunity,” McDonald said. “I’ve always had a fondness in my heart for Georgia Southwestern.”
A 1991 graduate of GSW with a degree in psychology, McDonald played for two years on the Lady Hurricanes basketball team under head coach, Dr. Greg Hawver. Her teammates included GSW Hall of Fame inductees, Carol Turner and Bridgette Colson.
“As a former GSW student-athlete, Paula’s enthusiasm for the position and desire to see her alma mater succeed at a high level made her an ideal choice as we continue to move the program forward,” continued Leeder.
McDonald expects the Lady Hurricanes to shine in their role as ambassadors for the University and the city of Americus.
“Georgia Southwestern is a bright spot in this community and I would like to show that when we go out and compete,” McDonald said. “I want people to say those kids are first class.”
While the team’s success on race day is important, McDonald understands the value of earning a degree.
“My ultimate goal is to help the girls bridge that gap to graduation,” McDonald said. “We’re here for them. Education comes first.”
McDonald’s accomplishments coaching during her time at Southland Academy include the following:
Boys Cross Country
2014 GISA Class AAA State Champions
2013 GISA Class AAA State Champions
2012 GISA Class AAA Third Place
2014 GISA Region 3-AAA Champions
2013 GISA Region 3-AAA Champions
2012 GISA Region 3-AAA Champions
2011 GISA Region 3-AAA Runner-Up
Girls Cross Country
2014 GISA Region 3-AAA Champions
2013 GISA Region 3-AAA Champions
2012 GISA Region 3-AAA Runner-Up
2011 GISA Class AAA Fourth Place
2011 GISA Region 3-AAA Runner-Up
All-State Runners
Wright Calhoun and Billy Calcutt (2012, 2013, 2014)
Ridge Roland (2014)
Chris Shattles (2011)
Coaching Accolades
Two-time GISA Region 3-AAA Coach of the Year
Two-time GISA Class AAA Co-Coach of the Year