Bellows ready to take on challenge of being head women’s soccer coach at QU


New Quincy University women's soccer coach Mackenzie Bellows, right, talks with Meagan Mero during a scrimmage at Legends Stadium. Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Mackenzie Bellows had started her road trip home to Calgary, Alberta, to spend the holidays with her family when Quincy University athletic director Josh Rabe asked if she’d have time for a phone call the next morning.

“I said he’s either going to ruin this trip for me or he’s going to make it the best Christmas break ever,” Bellows said.

It’ll be a very merry Christmas for the next QU women’s soccer coach.

The university made the hiring of Bellows official Monday morning, naming her as the fifth coach in program history. Bellows spent the past three seasons on the QU staff, serving two seasons as a graduate assistant before being promoted to a full-time assistant coach last fall.

“It’s a huge honor with the history of the program and the relationship it has with the community and the alumni connections,” Bellows said. “It’s a great network in soccer in general. You always go to events that everyone knows who Quincy University is in some capacity.”

She replaces Samuel Thomas, who resigned in November following two seasons at the helm. The Hawks went 7-9 in the fall with a 6-8 record in Great Lakes Valley Conference play and missed the GLVC Tournament for the second time in the last three seasons.

After making the NCAA Tournament 10 times in a 12-season span, the Hawks have failed to reach the national tournament each of the past four seasons — there was no national tourney following the 2020-21 season because of the COVID pandemic — and went 31-30-6 in that stretch.

“We’ve had four years of mediocrity where we made only two conference tournaments where it used to be an every year expectation,” Rabe said. “We need to get back to that.”

Bellows understands those expectations and demands.

“I like that challenge and I like the pressure of it,” Bellows said. “I know we can do it. I know we can get it done. So I like the pressure.”

Her audition showed she’s willing to put in the effort.

Following Thomas’ departure, Rabe named Bellows the interim coach and told her to continue running the program, including offering scholarships, while the coaching search was conducted.

The Hawks signed two players in November and two more in December.

“It was showcasing what I have been doing, maybe that was behind the scenes or maybe people knew about it,” Bellows said. “I was given a lot of opportunities prior to this, and I’m very thankful for that. But this kind of put it in the forefront. Rabe gave me the freedom in the interim to do what I wanted.

“Rabe said, ‘Do whatever you need to do. Get players in. Get us where we need to be.’ So I think it was a moment for me to prove I can do this. It was big the administration put that trust in me.”

It helped win her the job. Bellows was one of more than 50 coaches nationwide who applied, but her knowledge of the program and her plan for recruiting and connecting with alumni set her apart.

“I like that she’s a hard worker. She’s young and energetic,” Rabe said. “She really sold me on the vision of this program moving forward and how we’re going to get back to the level of making 10 NCAA Tournaments in 12 years.”

A native of Calgary, Bellows played four seasons at Jacksonville State, an NCAA Division I program, where she started 69 of her 76 career games played. She was a captain her final two seasons with the Gamecocks and finished with eight goals and 14 assists in her career.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education at Jacksonville State and received a master’s degree in educational leadership from Quincy University while developing the skills it takes to be a head coach.

“Being here for three years and seeing the potential we have and never being able to reach that potential obviously is disappointing, but it’s also exciting moving forward to make that happen,” Bellows said. “I know what we’re working with. I know the competition. I know the coaches in the conference.

“I know what we need, where to get it, where to find it. I’m pretty ambitious with that as well.”

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