Future Leopard April McDonald overcomes injury, to join women’s soccer next fall


April McDonald (Class of 2026) who has overcame multiple setbacks to achieve the level of success she’s at now, will continue the next four years of her soccer career on College Hill. (Photo courtesy of April McDonald ’26)

By Caroline McParland, Sports editor

Ontario, Canada native April McDonald overcame an ankle injury and disrupted seasons due to the Covid pandemic and secured a spot on the women’s soccer team with a full ride. The attacking midfielder plays for the Force Academy in Burlington and made her commitment official on Dec. 15 of this past year during a signing ceremony at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School.

In October 2019, McDonald was playing for her high school basketball team when she injured her foot.

“At the beginning, they told me it was just a sprain,” she said. “I was misdiagnosed for about three or four months. After that, I went for another MRI and another opinion and they realized that I had fully torn a ligament and I had shattered part of my talus bone.”

McDonald endured eight months without sports, as doctors had told her it would heal with time. Around the summer of 2020, she was cleared to start to play again but was still in a lot of pain. McDonald went for another scan to find it actually hadn’t healed.

McDonald then decided to get surgery, but due to the pandemic, all nonessential surgeries were postponed. She was unable to get surgery until June of 2021, which was more than 18 months after suffering the injury. 

“It was really hard. It just made me really angry because the doctors kept saying different things and getting my hopes up,” she said. “It happened during my grade ten and grade eleven, which is the most important year to get recruited.”

Amidst the injury and the onset of Covid, McDonald has only been able to play with her high school team in ninth grade. Despite the ups and downs in her high school career, her passion was consistent.

“I started playing soccer when I was younger, and it’s always what I’ve been passionate for,” McDonald said.

All while being a tri-sport athlete, McDonald played for the Team Ontario provincial soccer team for three years and even served as captain. Additionally, she won the athlete of the year award for her school in ninth grade, which is an accolade she hopes to achieve again before she graduates high school.

McDonald had limited film due to her time off, but her pre-injury resume was enough for Lafayette to offer her a full scholarship.

McDonald got in contact with the Lafayette coaches at the end of last year, and after sending in her highlight video and a few Zoom calls with head coach Mick Statham, her dream came true.

“The reason I signed was because I always wanted to play Division I soccer, and academically [Lafayette] is such a prestigious school,” McDonald said.

McDonald has also been in contact with a few members of the team, especially those who will be in her freshman class next year. While she has not been able to visit the campus in person, she has plans to come by the end of February.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a huge difference going from playing in Canada at a normal level to Division I school, but my goal is to make the biggest impact that I can,” she said. “I want to be as engaged in the university atmosphere as I can be.”

McDonald returned to the basketball court in September for her high school team and is currently playing with the senior volleyball team as well. She also plans on playing soccer for her school team in the spring one last time before becoming a Leopard.