Mary MacDonald has a short commute to her after-school gig. On days when there is a home basketball game at the regional high school, she walks from the guidance office, where she has worked for 22 years, down to the gym. She brings a small equipment case and a manila folder. The case has a microphone in it; the folder contains team rosters and a typed out pre-game welcome. There’s also a cheat sheet for the National Anthem—not that Mrs. MacDonald needs that, but the words are there just in case.

Mrs. MacDonald sits at a folding table just off center court, between the team scorekeepers, rosters at the ready, ready to call the game.

It’s a subtle, practical role, helpful for fans both casual and die-hard. For Mrs. MacDonald, it’s fun, and a great way for a former athlete to stay in the game.

Mary MacDonald played basketball growing up on the Vineyard; after returning to the Island, she also coached girls' team. — Ivy Ashe

Mrs. MacDonald played sports while growing up on the Vineyard and has coached high school and college-level field hockey and basketball. After moving back to the Island, she founded the basketball youth program in 1990, and coached the Vineyard varsity girls’ basketball squad for years before retiring from that job in 2006. Her kids played a host of sports: soccer, basketball, lacrosse (daughter Kelsey is now the head coach of the Israeli national team), hockey.

But although Mrs. MacDonald didn’t miss the stress of coaching once she retired, she did still want to be involved in sports. Field hockey coach Lisa Knight had taken on game-calling duties for a time, but there hadn’t been a regular voice calling basketball for years.

During junior varsity games, Mrs. MacDonald mans the 30-second clock. She initially started out with the clock for varsity games, too, before taking the mic to announce starting lineups and finally to announce scoring.

She’s also in the booth at lacrosse games in the spring and soccer games in the fall, but the scoring pace is far slower in those games, making basketball an extra challenge. Her game-calling style is straightforward and simple—no commentary, just the facts. A three-pointer for the Vineyard is called the same way as a trey for the opposing team. But that’s all you need.

“You don’t want to get too crazy,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “You want to make it fun for the kids.” The athletes and the fans provide the energy, which is at its peak during rivalry games—Bishop Feehan, Wareham—and during the postseason.

“When you get to host, it’s exciting,” Mrs. MacDonald said. And during the tournament, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association pre-game notes include recognizing military in the crowd—a detail Mrs. MacDonald appreciates on a personal level. One son is currently stationed in Virginia Beach and will deploy soon.

Being at all of the games also allows Mrs. MacDonald to see students outside the guidance office, which helps when writing recommendation letters. And it’s nice, she said, watching them succeed on the fields and the court.

Last year, Mrs. MacDonald broke her ankle during basketball season and missed a couple of games. But then she was back, rolling into the gym in her wheelchair, ready with the rosters and the microphone.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said.