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High values, positive experience make Mackey the coach he wants to be
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Photo: John Greenwood
Travis Mackey is athletic director for Geneseo High School.
GENESEO – Travis Mackey lives by a set of high values, in his role as husband and dad, as athletic director at Geneseo High School and on the football field coaching the "Green Machine."

Those values include teaching the young lives he touches that "life doesn't always go the way we want it, and how we deal with the tough times shows our true character."

After graduating from college, his first teaching position was for the Riverbend School District, where he taught computer programming at the high school level, pre-algebra and algebra to middle school students, fourth- and fifth-grade science and physical education and fourth-grade art.

"The need to be highly qualified was not as prevalent then as it is today," he said. "In addition to lunch duty, I coached high school football, high school track and middle school boys' and girls' basketball."

After four years with the Riverbend district, teaching in Fulton and Albany, Mr. Mackey was hired by the Rock Island School District, where he taught high school math and coached high school football and track. Before he was hired as athletic director at GHS, Mr. Mackey applied for two different teaching jobs in Geneseo.

"I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan," he said. "Having been at a small district like Fulton and then at a very diverse school like Rock Island have helped me become the person I am today."

He applied for a curriculum position in Rock Island and was not hired. Shortly after, the athletic director's position became available in Geneseo.

"That was the path I hoped to take," he said. "My academic and athletic experience in the Geneseo School District as I was growing up was so positive, and I wanted that for my kids."

He said every fall his mind would wander back to the days he was part of the Green Machine. When he applied for the athletic position, Mr. Mackey told his wife, Kris (with whom he has two sons and two daughters), that if he did get the job, he would "probably do that for a couple of years and then move on to something else."

He now is in his 11th year as athletic director in Geneseo and has coached football for the last eight years.

"I know what a young person feels like when they get cut from a team. I have had my share of being cut from job interviews. I have a great deal of respect for the students, taking a risk and knowing there is a possibility that all will not work out like they want. ... In athletics, and life, many times things don't go the way we wish and how we accept those times shows the character we are truly made from."

Mr. Mackey is the son of John and Lequeta Mackey, of Geneseo. His education began in Geneseo schools, when he was in kindergarten at the former Howard School, a country school located outside of Geneseo on U.S. 6. His fifth-grade year was at Northside, and sixth grade was at Millikin.

"I remember the old junior high school and being overwhelmed because I had never been in that building until the first day of school," he said. A park area now graces the ground where the junior high building once stood.

After graduating from Geneseo High School in 1983, he earned a bachelor's degree in math from Northeast Missouri State, Kirksville, Mo., where he also ran track. He received a master's degree in sports management and an administrative certificate from Western Illinois University, Macomb.

"I had an unbelievable high school experience in Geneseo," he said. "Our football team was a state runner-up in my junior year, and we were state champions in my senior year. I remember, in my senior year, we lost one game and barely made the playoffs. I can relate to the pressures our young people face today."

"I think athletics teaches young people so much about themselves. ... When things get tough, how do you respond? When others are counting on you, how do you respond? Are you humble in victory and gracious in defeat?"

Living his dream career is "being able to work in a community where the school board, Superintendent Scott Kuffel, high school administration, staff and community have high expectations of student achievement, whether it is in academics, fine arts or athletics. When you have that support, as I do, it makes it easy to go to work every day."

"When I was a student in the Geneseo schools, there were people who did some incredible things so I could have an awesome experience. There are still people doing those incredible things 25 years later. I am very proud to say Geneseo High School is my alma mater, and I hope kids are saying that today."





Living the dream

Who: Travis Mackey, athletic director at Geneseo High School

Quote: "My academic and athletic experience in the Geneseo School District as I was growing up was so positive, and I wanted that for my kids."


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  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






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