The Bangor Christian girls soccer team plays against Southern Aroostook in 2017. The school will be fielding a team for the first time since 2018. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Following a two-year hiatus, Bangor Christian will again have a varsity girls soccer team this fall.

And an alumna of the school’s soccer program will be coaching it.

Merideth McDonald, a Hudson native who returned to the area after a lengthy career as a psychiatric health clinician in Massachusetts, Florida and Washington, is enjoying her first foray into coaching.

McDonald will also be a physical education teacher at the school.

She is replacing Dave Young, who resigned for personal reasons according to Bangor Christian director of athletics Jon McAllian.

Merideth McDonald is the new coach of the Bangor Christian girls soccer team. Credit: Courtesy of Merideth McDonald

“This is a drastic career change for me. But it has been surprisingly awesome so far,” McDonald said. “I am so pleased with the girls. … I feel blessed.”

“She is going to be a good fit,” McAllian said. “She is really energetic and has a passion for working with kids.”

McAllian said it was during the interview process for the physical education job that he thought she could be the right person for the coaching vacancy.

Bangor Christian had to drop the program due to lack of numbers. The team has 17-19 players right now.

McAllian said even though numbers are low at the middle school, they are going to try to get more girls to sign up for soccer and that he is optimistic they will be able to sustain the varsity program for years to come.

Bangor Christian was competitive in its last two varsity seasons, going a combined 13-13-2 in 2018 and 2017.

McDonald admitted that she had to give it some thought because she wants to spend more time with her 10-year-old daughter Lija.

“But when I heard the program had died off, it broke my heart. That had been a big part of my life when I was there,” said McDonald, a 2001 Bangor Christian graduate and three-sport athlete.

She is well-versed in the mental health value of athletics and wanted to share her knowledge with her players, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in students being isolated from their friends and spending a lot of time doing remote learning.

McDonald said you can’t underestimate the importance of athletics and getting students to leave their computers and cellphones and get some physical activity in a team environment.

“The life skills you learn from athletics go far beyond the classroom,” McDonald said.

Student-athletes learn the importance of hard work, teamwork, communication, how to complete a task and how to deal with adversity.

She will also teach those life skills to the students in her physical education classes, she said.

McDonald has an impressive resume.

She has a Ph.D. and a masters degree to go with her undergraduate degree in psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She founded a non-profit club called BIG (Brain Injury Group) Life for brain injury survivors and their caregivers.

Her ex-husband, Nate, was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He did survive and recover.

To raise awareness for brain injuries, she laced on her inline skates and skated 1,500 miles from Florida to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where her ex-husband was treated.

She loves being back in Maine and living in her hometown of Hudson. She has been able to reunite with longtime friends.

She has a young team including some players who have very little soccer experience.

“I am looking to help them grow, learn how to communicate and how to mesh as a team,” McDonald said.