Beaver Falls, PA - "Tough as nails" is how Geneva College head football coach Geno DeMarco described defensive line coach Mike Wickline. Renowned for his strength and passion, Wickline served as a coach at the high school level for many years. He joined the Geneva College football coaching staff in 2009. Wickline passed away on Thursday, August 12, at the age of 52.
On what would have been one of his favorite days of the year, the first day of full pads and full contact of training camp, Wickline was scheduled to take his son, Jake, back to Edinboro to begin his junior season with the Scotties football team.
Wickline had just begun his second season as the defensive line and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Golden Tornadoes. Although his most recent coaching position was at Geneva, Wickline spent 26 years at the high school level where he became a legend throughout Beaver County.
He served as the assistant football coach and basketball coach at Western Beaver High School for 23 years. Wickline then moved on to Riverside High School, where he served as defensive coordinator for the Panthers for three seasons, as well as the freshman basketball coach.
In addition to his coaching duties at Geneva, Wickline worked as an industrial arts teacher at Riverside Middle School and High School. Last year, he transitioned into the position of guidance counselor at the high school. He also worked as a mobile therapist for Western Pennsylvania Psychiatric Care.
A graduate of Blackhawk High School, Wickline received his bachelor′s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in 1981 and later his master′s degree from Slippery Rock Univerisity.
Wickline is survived by his wife, Gretchen, and their three children: Emily, Jake and Olivia. "There are no words," said DeMarco. "This is a man that I have known for nearly 30 years and is without question one of the most passionate coaches I have ever been around. Mike was a true family man and a guy who simply loved teaching and loved coaching. We are praying for Gretchen and the kids and will find a way to serve as a support system for everyone. If there is one thing we can do to honor Mike′s memory it will be to go out and work as hard as we can. He wouldn't settle for anything less."
"It is easy to forget sometimes how life can be so fragile," DeMarco continued. "Developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is first and foremost when it comes to priorities in this program. We can rest assured that Mike Wickline is in heaven and that serves as a light to his family and to everyone in this program."
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College′s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
Coach Wickline with his 2009 Defensive Line.