Kelowna man heads to New York Yankees organization – Vancouver Island Free Daily
Kelowna native Isiah McDonald is heading towards a career in professional baseball.
The 25-year-old has accepted a position with the New York Yankees organization as a strength and performance coach, specializing in speed and agility on the court.
At the start of the pandemic, McDonald used his passion for coaching and training to start his own business called Instinctive Performance, which he ran privately online and in person at a baseball facility in Kamloops. After a few months, McDonald’s had some success as its customer base grew, working with local athletes in multiple sports. At the same time, he saw an internship opportunity to work with top-level coach Eric Cressey.
Throughout his college baseball career, McDonald followed Cressey on social media. Cressey is the Director of Player Health and Performance for the Yankees and the owner of Cressey Sports Performance.
McDonald applied and was accepted for the internship, heading to Cressey’s private training facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“He’s the baseball coaching guru,” McDonald said.
McDonald spent six months in Florida where Cressey took him under his wing. After the internship was over, Cressey offered McDonald a job at his facility, but he decided to put his newfound knowledge to good use and teach Canadian athletes at home.
Early last winter, MLB went into lockdown and players weren’t allowed to practice at their team’s facilities. More than 100 players turned up at Cressey’s gymnasium for their off-season training, overwhelming the facility. It was then that Cressey phoned McDonald to come down and continue his internship for another three months.
During this time, McDonald worked with major and minor league baseball players as well as athletes from other sports. During his final week in Florida, he was working with NFL quarterback Jacoby Brissett when Cressey approached and joked with McDonald about getting him a job with the Yankees. Later that day, the joke quickly turned serious and they started the paperwork.
“It’s hard to say no to the Yankees,” McDonald said.
Born in Vancouver, McDonald played his first baseball season at age eight before he and his family moved to Grand Forks. He then played in Grand Forks, Trail before playing high school baseball in Kamloops. He then moved to Kelowna, but returned to Kamloops as he saw a better opportunity to play ball there. After high school, McDonald stayed in Kamloops as he was accepted to Thompson Rivers University as well as their baseball team.
During his career at TRU, McDonald played under former major league pitcher Ray Chadwick and batted .309 with seven doubles, three triples, one homer, 19 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 49 games and was named all-conference outfielder in 2015 During that time, he also suffered a long list of injuries, including a torn hamstring, developing arthritis in four discs in his back, and dislocating both shoulders within two weeks.
McDonald would then move on to UBC, graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in psychology.
He says he has a baseball addiction.
“Growing up, you always want to play as long as possible, and that was kind of always my goal,” McDonald said. “I just suffered a few injuries and it’s almost like your forces find you. I think through those injuries I really studied the body because I wanted to keep playing. I think that made me very passionate about training, training and movement. Just the way my life has been, it’s kind of the way I’m supposed to be.
He doesn’t yet know what level he will be at this season, but he will start at the spring training complex in Tampa, Florida. He said he could be with one of the minor league teams or at spring training center throughout the season because that’s where injured players go to rehab during the season. Two of the Yankees’ minor league teams also play in Tampa outside of the spring training complex.
McDonald will continue his own business while working for the Yankees. He bought an online workout app and created videos of hundreds of workouts for his clientele to watch and use, and he’ll keep in touch with them when he can. He also co-hosts a Canadian baseball podcast called The Battery Podcast.