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I: HER LIFE


football team, at quarterback—and the subject of a public radio feature story entitled, “Throws Like a Girl.” There was also volleyball, tennis, golf. She played baseball early on and by junior high had a killer arm; she once beaned her


father and gave him a black eye while playing catch in front of the house in Springfield. By high school, she was lettering in basketball, softball (catcher and center field) and golf. Some high school athletes approach sports as if they’re in the World Series or the


Superbowl; Mack never stopped approaching it like an exuberant child on a playground. Though she was usually one of the stars of whatever team she was on, she was also, invariably, the team clown. Her humor was never cruel, always goofy, self-effacing, infectious. Team-wide running jokes, with her at the center of them, were the norm at sports outings, no matter what the sport or how high the stakes. She invented words, songs, slogans, and the greeting she called the “hand hug,” which is exactly what it sounds like. “Mack always made the time you spent


together special,” her golf coach, Jake Stapleton, said in his speech at Mackenzie’s memorial service at Springfield High School on October 12, 2014. “There are some things that I will carry with me always: It’s okay to keep your shirt un-tucked when your game- face is on. Sometimes your competitors can turn out to be your best friends. And at the end of the day a hand hug is all you need.”


We named her Mackenzie in honor of her St. Patrick’s Day birth. Her middle name came


from her maternal great-grandmother Kathleen Sewell, who died not long before Mack was born. She did get to know two other great-grandparents, and all four grandparents. She saw Grandpa Bill and Grandma Dianne McDermott, and the sprawling collection of uncles, aunts and cousins on that side of the family, during trips a few times a year to the Chicago area or to the Wisconsin cabin. She enjoyed those big noisy gatherings, where she could pit her love of the Green Bay Packers against a family full of Bears fans. “Swarmed by about 25 cousins, aunts, uncles and


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