Barry McNamara  |  Published April 04, 2023

Senior Profile: Tim McNally

Monmouth became his home after his high school and first college closed in one-year span.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – It was spring break 2020, and Tim McNally was watching a baseball game in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when one of his buddies received a notification that changed everything.

TIM McNALLY: Senior set to graduate with degree in educational studies after transferring to Monm... TIM McNALLY: Senior set to graduate with degree in educational studies after transferring to Monmouth in 2020.“We were all sitting around watching a JV game when one of my teammates got an alert on his phone,” said McNally, who was a freshman in college at the time. “It said that Duke had just canceled its season.”

Duke and all other active teams – from grade school squads to professional franchises – shut down their seasons within days of each other that March. That included McNally’s MacMurray College Highlanders.

But the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just derail McNally’s first season of college baseball after the 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander had made a pair of starts on the mound for the Highlanders. It dealt a knockout blow to McNally’s entire school. MacMurray closed its doors two months after the pandemic began, ending its 174-year run as a small college in Illinois.

Monmouth records the save

McNally and several hundred other undergraduates at the Jacksonville school were left in limbo.

“Our baseball coach helped out quite a bit, getting the word out about us, and then (Monmouth) Coach (Alan) Betourne talked to me,” said McNally. “It sounded like Monmouth would be the best fit. I’d be able to graduate on time, and I could do my student teaching in the fall and still play baseball.”

McNally was back in the game – both on the diamond and in his pursuit of a degree in educational studies, which he will receive in May. Up next is leading his own third grade classroom in Earlville, Illinois, roughly 15 minutes from his home in Paw Paw.

Paw Paw’s last graduate

What happened at MacMurray was actually not a first for McNally. Because Paw Paw was a small school district, he played for three different athletic programs during his high school years – with Paw Paw as a freshman, in an athletic co-op with Earlville and Leland as a sophomore and junior, and in another co-op with Indian Creek as a senior.

The latter co-op turned into a full-fledged consolidation as McNally’s time in high school ended, with Indian Creek absorbing Paw Paw’s students. In fact, as the salutatorian and president of his 15-student class, McNally’s was the last name read at the 117-year-old school’s final graduation ceremony in May 2019.

Becoming a stronger teacher

When McNally’s name is read midway through the list of Monmouth graduates on May 14, it will signal the end of a successful three-year chapter – one that he feels has gone the extra step toward preparing him to educate the next generation of students.

“Monmouth allows its education majors a lot of time as a student-teacher in a classroom. There’s a quota for how many hours teaching candidates are supposed to spend in a classroom, and Monmouth blows that out of the water.” Tim McNally

“Monmouth allows its education majors a lot of time as a student-teacher in a classroom,” he said. “There’s a quota for how many hours teaching candidates are supposed to spend in a classroom, and Monmouth blows that out of the water.”

In Earlville, McNally will lead what he called a “self-contained classroom,” meaning he’ll need to instruct his students in several disciplines.

“I really like math, and I enjoyed all the classes I had with Professor (Sherry) Bair,” he said. “They made you look at math differently.”

McNally has also enjoyed the view from the center of the diamond, where he flashes a mid-80s fastball “with a little tail to it.”

BEATING KNOX: McNally was the winning pitcher when the Fighting Scots defeated the Prairie Fire o... BEATING KNOX: McNally was the winning pitcher when the Fighting Scots defeated the Prairie Fire on March 29.“There’s just something about getting the ball back from the catcher and turning around to walk back to the mound and seeing all your closest friends out in the field with you and in the dugout,” he said. “It’s those bonds that you make in sports that just can’t be replicated.”

McNally will have the opportunity to stay in the game in his new job, too, as he’s been offered an assistant coach role with Earlville’s high school team. He also might help the basketball program, too.

The latter sport is the No. 1 choice for one of his two brothers, Brennen, who’s a student at Kishwaukee College, a community college in Malta, Illinois.

“Monmouth is a small school, and I think he’d really enjoy how close everybody is here,” said McNally of the potential transfer student. “It’s a small town, too, but it has everything you need. The academics here are strong, and the basketball team is good, too.”

McNally said playing the role of older brother to Brennen and their 16-year-old sibling, Jacob, helped convince him he had a knack for teaching. So did spending many years around his mother’s day care operation.

In addition to leading his own classroom, McNally is looking forward to another post-Monmouth experience. In October of 2024, he will marry his fiancée, McKenna.

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