Awesome Arrival in the Athletic Office

Michelle Lillis has big plans for her time here at West

New athletic director Michelle Lillis stands proudly by her hall of fame plaque. She was recognized as the first female athletic director at her previous school, Rock Island High School.

Makenna Burt

New athletic director Michelle Lillis stands proudly by her hall of fame plaque. She was recognized as the first female athletic director at her previous school, Rock Island High School.

Makenna Burt, Reporter

Math teacher for 27 years, head girls track coach for 19 years, going on year 5 of being an Athletic Director. There is a lot to say about Michelle Lillis who is Davenport West new Athletic Director.

 Born and raised in Illinois, Lillis was previously at Rock Island for the past 34 years. In her time at Rock Island, she was a math teacher, a dean, an assistant principal, and then athletic director. She has also coached many sports including track, cross country, and basketball. 

“She is very straight forward, and is going to tell you how she wants it done” Secretary Nikki Haas said. 

Hass shared that she is also positive, very funny, can laugh with you on a joker, but will be serious with you when needed. These are just some of the amazing traits of Lillis.

Lillis has been fitting in amazingly with our staff here at West. She is very organized and brings happiness to the office. She also is amazing at her job and really cares about the athletics at West.

“I have loved athletics my whole life. When I was a junior in high school, it was the very first time that my school had girls softball, which I loved to death,” Lillis said.  “So it has been a passion and has been fun kinda paving a way a little bit.”

With Lillis’ love for athletics, she didn’t ever want to stop doing things in athletics. Also, with women’s sports just starting when she was young she didn’t ever want to stop the passion.

“I wanted to be a part of athletics as much as I could be a part of athletics my whole life” Lillis said.. “I wanted to have a greater effect because I could see that there were systemic things within the athletic department that could be better, a lot of it having to do with inequity, not only male and female, but with major and minor sports.” 

Lillis wanted to make a difference in the sports at schools. She is devoted to doing just that.  

“That doesn’t mean that football isn’t important, or that those kids aren’t important, or that boys basketball is not important, they are [important].” Lillis said. “It’s just that so is everyone else [is important also].”

Lillis wants everyone to have the same amount of importance, no matter their gender or what sport it is, they all matter. That was not the case for her; she had to work hard to get where she is now. 

“I didn’t want to listen to anyone say you are a female you can’t do that. It took a while, took some time, but I paved the way and hope to continue doing that here [at West]” said Lillis. “I’m super excited to be here to do that.” 

Lillis is a woman of many accomplishments, is the first female coach to win a state championship at Rock Island Highschool and also was the first female Athletic Director in the Western Big 6.

 The schools in the Western Big 6 include Alleman, Galesburg, Geneseo, Moline, Quincy, Rock Island, Sterling, and United Township. (Photo from

Even being at West for a short period of time, Lillis has heard concerns from multiple people. She has also spotted some things around the sports facilities that she has her own concerns with. 

“I have heard that we need to work really hard to get you guys another gym.” Lillis said. “I have heard that from a lot of coaches, the athletes, and having to share is hard and there is a need for some time when you need some space.”

Lillis is hard working on getting a new gym, and will listen to our concerns. Overall, it is not her decision, she has to work with Mrs. Williams and ultimately with the district.  

“I have talked to Mrs. Williams and we are working on a plan, we are trying to do the best we can, obviously getting new facilities takes time, but it is definitely on the radar.” Lillis said.. “I am hoping that we can make that happen [soon].” 

“Facilities are a really big roadblock for you guys.” Lillis said. “I understand the difficulty in [coaching] and your [need for the gym] but cheer gets to have practice, dance gets to have practice, and somehow we have to figure that out with one gym, that’s the challenge.”

 Lillis is all about wanting to make our sport teams better, but with the facility troubles it is hard. She is determined to do the best for our sports programs. 

“If you want to elevate how good people are, they have to have a chance to practice, it’s really hard to say ‘okay we want West to be a championship any sport, if you can’t even practice every day,’” Lillis said.. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t make every effort possible to get kids here, something equitable to what kids have at other schools.”