Former student now coaching NAHS golf program
Louis Mackie, during his years as a student at North Augusta High School, made a name for himself largely through performance in football, basketball and baseball, including service as a shortstop in his senior year, when the Jackets won the state baseball title.This year, the 1997 NAHS graduate is adding a new dimension, as coach of the Yellow Jackets' golf program, helping guide a squad comprised of Ben Adams, Christian Manley, Zane Stripling, Jacob Blackmon, Banks Williams, Jay Luman, Brant Gillespie, Travis Redd, Chase Marzullo and Colby Bradley."I am an algebra and a special-ed teacher at the high school. I've been doing this now for the past three years, and it's been good because I get to see the different ranges of all the kids ... so I have a pretty good relationship with most of the kids in the school," he said.During his years as a student on Knobcone Avenue, he was known as a running back in the fall and also served as a point guard in the winter. Spring was baseball time.The athletic department is enjoying a wave of success, he added."The football team did well last year. Basketball's done well, and then golf, we're expecting to hold up that fort, because I'm not used to losing, and I don't want to lose, so we have a lot to look forward to, and the guys do have high expectations."As golf coach, he is Justin Medlock's successor, and inherits a program that has been dominated in recent years by Matt NeSmith, who is now in his freshman year at the University of South Carolina, as a blue-chip golfer for the Gamecocks.Mackie also speaks the language of collegiate athletics, having attended Augusta State University on a baseball scholarship. "I'm not a sedentary person," he confirmed.Following graduation, he was "out in the business world for a few years, but then all of my former coaches were telling me to get back into coaching, and finally I fell on through a few years ago, and I'm happy doing what I'm doing," he said. "I can't complain."McKie's focus in the fall is still on football. As an assistant coach, he leads the Jackets' defensive backs."I like to brag on my guys, because I think we've had close to 30 picks the last two years, so only three teams scored a passing touchdown on us this past year. Now, we've lost three of our four guys, so this upcoming year, we're going to have to really do some coaching."As for golf, he said, "I wouldn't say I'm a 'scratch' golfer, but I do diddle around on the golf course a little bit, so the guys can get a little bit of advice from me, but most of these guys out here pretty much have their golf swing down."Mackie described this year's Jacket golfers as young (including five freshmen and "only one senior") but not short on experience."They are mature for their age ... A lot of these guys have already been in tournaments, so they've experienced what's going to happen in the future, and, honestly, I'm going to have to figure out how I'm going to distinguish the top five guys, so we're going to have a good competition the next couple of weeks to see who's going to be that top five."Aside from golf, McKie is fond of bowling and also gets into table tennis with his daughter, Keiri, a third-grader at Mossy Creek Elementary School.Keiri, he noted, recently won third place in a statewide American Legion essay contest. "She's big on that, and she is the biggest Jacket fan. She's already talking about Yellow Jacket football, so I'm ready for that to get started. It's the first year of me doing golf, so she's going to come out there and support us in golf."Trey Morgan, a Yellow Jacket senior who played football for four years under McKie's guidance, offered a description of McKie's approach to coaching."He's real laid back, but he's passionate about what he does, and he's well-prepared for what he has at hand - his task," said Morgan, who signed this month for a scholarship to play for Western Carolina University.