McQuaid Takes the Floor as Freshman Starter for Varsity Panthers

Filed under: DISD,Sports |
Submitted by Panther Prints
Story by  John Davila
Freshman Matthew McQuaid tried his size out for a dunck prior to starting in the game against Cedar Hill. Although he stuck to the three point shots he made the dunk during the pregame shoot around. (Jenine Hamed photo)

Before the start of the varsity Panthers game, freshman Matthew McQuaid takes the court and stands outside the key, making one three point shot after another. As one shot goes in, his teammates pass the ball back to him and he hits another, then another and then another. When the game gets rolling, he takes the inbound pass from his teammate, makes a pass up the middle then quickly hurries down the court to set off for a screen pass outside the edge of the key for the moment he has been waiting for all his life. He catches the pass and from outside the baseline he makes his first three point shot as a varsity player energizing his team of upperclassman. Although he admits being on the varsity as a freshman can have ups and downs, he just wants to help his team get the win.

“I don’t feel pressure from anyone,” Matthew said. “I just go out there and do what I do best.”

Although Matthew’s playing time at the beginning of the season was limited, head coach Eric McDade admits choosing him for the team was no different than choosing someone who has been on varsity all though high school.

“We just went through our normal evaluation and decided to put Matthew on the team,” head coach Eric McDade said. “It is important to be a good teammate, and Matthew is one of the best.”

Matthew has been dribbling and shooting a ball since he was old enough to play and his family admits he plays every chance he gets. His father Rob McQuaid said he noticed his love for the game at a young age and wanted to get him where he needed to be to develop as a skilled player.

“I coached his AAU team to nationals when he was in second grade and we have been every year since,” Mr. McQuaid said. “As a dad it makes me very proud to see him play the game he loves.”

Now every time the varsity Panthers take the court, Mr. McQuaid and his wife Karen are in the stands cheering on the team. Mr. McQuaid admits it is much different looking at the game from the stands and not being on the court calling all the shots.

“When I am coaching I am not isolated so much on Matthew but on the team as a whole,” Mr. McQuaid said. “When I watch from the stands I tend to watch his performance a lot closer. The hardest thing is I have control when I am coaching and when I am in the stands I have no control.”

When Matthew found out he was going to be on varsity, he wasn’t sure what to expect as he was going to play on a team where he was not familiar with the other players game.

“At first I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t know anyone,” Matthew said.

Matthew was welcomed on to the team with open arms from both the coaching staff and the players.

“The older players on the team have really taken a liking to him and they all get along well,” McDade said.

Those who know him say Matthew has never been to known to be a lazy kid. His parents say his grades stay consistently high even when he gets home late from a game. and sometimes doesn’t get to bed until after midnight.

“He works hard in all he does and it always pays off for him,” Mrs. McQuaid said. “Sometimes he doesn’t even get in bed until after midnight then he gets back up ready to do what he loves again.”

Coming from the middle school level, McDade admits there were some changes Matthew had to make to be successful on the varsity level.

“He’s done well at the varsity level and established himself as a starter,” McDade said. “He made the adjustment we ask him to and he plays hard every time he is on the court.”

So far Matthew has been on the team for the entire season and has seen his share of starts on the varsity team. Just like always, his father looks on with joy every time they announce his son’s name.

“I’m very proud of what he’s done on an off the court,” Mr. McQuaid said. “I also know he loves what he is doing.”

Getting to start as a freshman will give Matthew a chance to gain the looks of many including college recruits and other teams who scout the Panthers over the next four years, however he admits he just wants to do his best as a player.

“This is my time to shine as a player,” Matthew said. “I’m just going to make the most of the chances I am given to play varsity basketball.”