In a small town with a passion for football, few locations mean as much to the community as the local football field. Not only is it a place for student athletes to congregate and compete, it is also a social outlet for adults. This is especially true for Mackinaw's Jim McDonald Field.
The argument could be made that the modern-day history of Jim McDonald Field starts with its namesake, Jim McDonald. Coming to Mackinaw as a student teacher from Eureka College in 1974, Jim went to work under then head coach Larry Young. After 5 seasons, McDonald was ready to take the reins himself for 2 years. While he did go back to assistant coach for another 2 years, Jim officially took over in 1982, where he would stay for the next 23 years. During his 25-year tenure, the Dee-Mack Chiefs amassed an impressive record of 178-84, with a state runner up finish in 1987 and 5 undefeated regular seasons.
In 1995, McDonald would be fundamental in establishing a JFL league for Deer Creek-Mackinaw. Starting with a goal of $11,000, several fundraisers were held that summer. Under Jim’s guidance, the club would go on to smash that goal, bringing in almost $20,000 with the help of many community members and businesses. As of 2018, the JFL teams would also play occasional games on the high school field.
McDonald went on to retire from coaching and teaching in 2005 at the end of yet another successful season that included a 9-0 regular season run, a Midstate Title, and a #1 state ranking. However, the winning tradition that Jim started would not end there. In 2016, under head coach Job Linboom, the Chiefs would bring home the state title after defeating Maroa-Forsyth 35-7 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
In August of 2018, the Dee-Mack football stadium was dedicated to Jim McDonald during half time of their home opener against Tremont. The ceremony was emceed by current athletic director, Mitch Holmgren, and featured speeches from coach Job Linboom and former player Zach Zehr. The 11-minute ceremony can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6oSFnRZ3v4
The next home game at the Jim McDonald field will be on Friday October 8th, against the LeRoy Panthers at 7:00 P.M.