Helen Jane McDonald
Helen Jane Stephens McDonald’s influence on her students, players and school can’t be adequately put into words. As a coach at Calhoun High School for 29 years, her accomplishments were great. She was named the assistant coach of the year by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association for Region 7-AA, was instrumental in starting the girl’s track and field programs as well as the cross country program. Other sports coached by McDonald were boys and girls volleyball, softball and varsity cheerleading.
As testimony to Coach McDonald’s influence, Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame member Diane Crocker Smith said a simple statement by her P.E. teacher and coach, Helen Jane, “Crocker, you should be a P.E. teacher and a coach”. Those words by an influential teacher still resonate with Coach Smith, who, like Coach McDonald, is a legend in Georgia coaching.
Coach Melanie Moore, Ashworth Middle’s girl’s basketball coach, speaks these many years later as well of Coach McDonald’s unusual drive and attention to detail, and credits Coach McDonald’s influence in this area of her own life as a coach and teacher.
As a coach at Calhoun Recreation Department for 29 years, Coach McDonald cofounded the American Red Cross swim program and sat on the rules committee for the Georgia Recreation and Parks Society. She was a cofounder of the Gordon County Ladies Golf League as well.
As a four-year letterman in basketball for Calhoun High School, McDonald was equally as impressive as was her coaching career. She averaged 30 points per game and holds the scoring record for a single game of 47 points. She was an all-region player and is considered by many to be one of the best female basketball players in Calhoun High’s storied history.
Among the press coverage of McDonald’s games was this lead from a 1955 Atlanta Journal Constitution article, “Calhoun emerged from the first round of the 3-A North Georgia girls’ basketball tournament as the class of the crown here Monday night and a pretty point-maker named Helen Stephens was the class of Calhoun”. She had 37 points in that game. In an interview with the “Calhoun Times” later in her life, McDonald spoke with pride of the state championship won by the football team in 1952.
McDonald was a 1959 graduate of the University of Georgia and later earned a Master of Education degree from UGA as well. She was a long-time member of the Georgia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and was a member of Calhoun’s First Baptist Church.
She was an avid traveler had been all over the world and remained very proud of the accomplishments of her former students. Sadly, Helen Jane McDonald passed away in 2015 but her influence on Calhoun and Gordon County Sports will remain for many generations. She is survived by her daughter, Lynn Dee McDonald and her husband, Carlos Ruiz, and admired by many.