Dobbels honored for his dedication

Amy Boldt
Jesse Dobbels (right) is presented with an award by athletic director Travis Mackey (left) for being a “Friends of Athletics” finalist.

People say "Actions speak louder than words," and, nowhere is that more true than in the case of Jesse Dobbels. The long-time volunteer recently received a state of Illinois "Friends of Athletics" award for his work with the Geneseo School District.

Dobbels was presented an award May 27 before the Lady Leafs’ regional softball game against Rock Island for being a state finalist in the “Friends of Athletics” category. This award is presented by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association.

“It means a lot,” said Dobbels, trying to hold back tears. “I do it for the kids and the community. I just go out and do my job.”

From the physical things he does, like making sure all the equipment and uniforms are in order and making sure the softball fields are in good shape to being an avid supporter, Dobbels does everything.

“He does everything to make this place (the softball fields) look great,” said head softball coach Bob Pettit. “It is unbelieveable what he brings and the lift you get just being around him. He is inspirational and you can count on him. He is so reliable.

“It is more than just the tangibles. You can see when someone with a good heart is around, it just spreads.”

“He is very involved with athletics and the school district,” said athletic director Travis Mackey. “He is a guy who, when it comes to Geneseo, I don’t think you will find a greater fan. He is just one of those diehards.

“He wants to represent Geneseo and does a great job of being an ambassador. A lot of people also know him in the Quad Cities and in the conference and he is well liked by all of our competitors.

“When I mentioned nominating him for this award everyone was in total agreement and it was unanimous in our division.”

Right now, Dobbels is a finalist at the state level and is one of four in the state of Illinois vying for the award.

“For him to be at that level is pretty tremendous,” said Mackey. “It is a great tribute to him and what he has done.”

Mackey stated the award was established because athletic directors across the state wanted to recognize people who are the backbone and behind athletic programs win or lose.

“The award to me is one of the most prestigious awards you can win,” said Mackey. “It is not about how high you jump or how fast you run, it is about wanting to make an impact on people in their lives. That is what Jesse is. He always has Geneseo in his heart.”

Pettit stated that the teams sometimes may take Jesse for granted, like a parent, because he does so much for them.

“But every once in a while the players take a step back and see how much he dedicates and sacrifices for them and they appreciate that,” said Pettit.

“I love what I am doing, I love being here and I love the town of Geneseo,” said Dobbels. “They support me and I support them.”

Dobbels is a staple with the softball, football and girls’ basketball programs, but is a fan of all Geneseo athletics. He began his work with the Geneseo athletic programs in 1986 when he began filming basketball games.

For the coaches, the many things Dobbels does for their teams takes a big weight off their shoulders.

“I don’t know what it would be like, coaching without Jesse and I don’t want to find out anytime soon,” said Pettit. “He has been with me for basketball and softball. He is like my brother.”

Jesse Dobbels receives a congratulatory hug from head softball coach Bob Pettit.