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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hecox and Martin Awarded Mackey-Reese Scholarship


Contributed by Coach John Mackey

As part of the final awards at the 2024 Mansfield Athletic Banquet, seniors Raine Hecox and Peyton Martin were awarded the Continue the Race: Kevin Mackey & Grayson Reese Memorial Scholarship.

The academic scholarship, which is in its second year of availability, was established as an investment into the future education of highly motivated Mansfield athletes looking to pursue a degree beyond the high school level. Sponsorship for the academic gift was engineered by retired Mansfield Coach John Mackey and his family in remembrance of a nephew and great-nephew who each perished unexpectedly from life’s race at an all too early age.

Applicants for the award were challenged to pick up the torch and reach a finish line of their own choosing with faith, passion, and commitment. Candidates were asked to describe how athletics taught them life lessons, self discipline, and an ability to overcome adversity.

Hecox and Martin distinguished themselves among all the qualifying applicants. Their credentials in regard to academic excellence, athletic consistency, and activity involvement placed them in high standing with members of a selection committee. Consequently, it was determined that the Mansfield pair would each be awarded a monetary contribution towards the tuition costs of their respective colleges. 

Hecox, during her four years of high school, participated in as many as five different sports. Those included cross country, track, basketball, volleyball, and oddly enough football. For a time, she was the only female football player on the male dominated Mansfield team sport. 

A challenge unto itself, she finally stepped away from the gridiron game as the physical disparities made it difficult to continue. A decision she said was difficult to make but ultimately a life lesson that she was able to draw upon for motivation in other things. Despite changing her role as a football player, she continued to be involved in the program as a team manager. Her other sports, academics, club activities, and work became the new focus with a stronger sense of commitment and perseverance.

Hecox was heavily involved in school organizations such as Beta Club, Quiz Bowl, FCCLA, FFA, Fire Marshall, FCA, and Yearbook. She showed an ability to balance a complex schedule of club responsibilities, sports participating, and after school work with high academic standards. Her classroom excellence pushed her inside the 2024 MHS graduating class top 10 with an accumulative GPA of 3.61.

Her career goals are wide spread with a high interest in pediatrics, speech pathology, and physical therapy. She states that working since the age of 16 has allowed her to better communicate, organize, and manage time. This has given her a mindset of accountability that will lend its leg as she finds the next gear to reach her own finish line.

Hecox plans to continue her education at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. As she did in high school, she will juggle in the rigors of athletics as well. The two-time state indoor track team champion and outdoor track All-District runner will continue her cross country and track career as a member of the Eagles athletic department. A signing ceremony to complete her athletic recruiting process was scheduled for May 8 at the Mansfield cafeteria.

Martin, is a four sport athlete for the Mansfield Tigers competing in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He has earned All-District, All-Region, or All-State honors in each of those athletic disciplines. His teams finished deep into state tournament action in each of those sports. He was the individual state pole vault champion in indoor track his senior season. He is scheduled to continue his baseball career as a member of the UA Rich Mountain Bucks next school year.

Academically, Martin carried an accumulative 3.22 GPA and ranked in the top 20 of Mansfield’s 2024 graduation class who will have their commencement exercises on May 13. During his time on campus, this most recently announced T. Franklin Boyd Tiger of the Year was an active member of the Beta Club, FCA, FFA, and Student Council. 

Martin states that his pathway through college includes the pursuit of an advanced manufacturing degree while fulfilling a dream of playing baseball beyond high school. He also admits the challenge of overcoming a severe injury during his freshman year gave him the ability to conquer adversity while developing a deeper, more meaningful comradery with teammates. All of this, he insists, has given him the wherewithal to finish his race and make his school and community proud.

Coach Mackey’s nephew Kevin Mackey lost his life at the age of 32 in 2019. He was a former college soccer player at Southern Methodist University before completing his bachelor’s degree at North Texas State University. He was a successful real estate broker in Dallas, a loving husband, and devoted father to three. His passions included faith, family, sports, and education.

Grayson Reese of Benton, Arkansas was the great-nephew of Mansfield’s long time coach and athletic director. Family describe Grayson as so unique that he was called to enter Heaven’s Gate in 2023 after only three full weeks on earth. Within that short time, he was loved by a large family including his mother and father, big brother, big sister, many aunts and uncles, and adoring grandparents.

Congratulations Mansfield seniors Raine Hecox and Peyton Martin as you both “continue the race” with new academic journeys.

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