Family fuels Mackey as AD

Chris Steele
Travis Mackey speaks during Geneseo's Athletic Recognition Night in 2016. Mackey was named 2015 3A and 4A Athletic Director of the Year of Class by the 
Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA).

Travis Mackey’s job and family have become entwined.

During his 16 years as athletic director at Geneseo High School, his experiences as a father revealed the struggles parents of high school athletes can face.

Mackey knows the hurt of having a child cut from a team, the pain of having a child injured and the stress of working while missing your children’s games.

Through those experiences, Mackey’s background as a parent has had an impact on the way he looks at things as an administrator.

“It’s more about being a part of something special than it is about the results,” Mackey said.

In preparing for his new role as principal, Mackey was left thinking about the impact his family has had on his job.

Travis and his wife, Kris, made the massive amount of time an AD’s job requires a family affair for their four children Zach, Tyler, Maddie and Allie Mackey.

Zach and Maddie have both broadcasted Geneseo games, Tyler was a 3x4 award winners for the Maple Leafs and Allie will begin her freshman year this fall.

Kris catches whatever else needs to get done, from keeping the kids organized to operating scoreboards or keeping stats at games.

“It’s been critical to have them be a part of it,” Travis said. “Otherwise this wouldn’t have been as enjoyable a job. They’ve been helping me out of necessity too.”

To the kids, helping was just their way of life.

“It was what we did,” Zach said. “We were competitive with each other about who could do things the fastest. Whenever we had a free weekend, we would be at the high school at an event. It was kind of fun for us.

“All of our friends were there, Tyler was playing, I was broadcasting and Allie and my parents were in the stands.”

When Maddie tore her ACL during the basketball season her junior year, Travis said she helped teach him about what it means to be patient and not take things for granted.

“It used to always be about the results and the competition,” Travis said. “Sometimes it comes down to the ability to participate and be part of a team again. That’s what is important.”

In her senior year, Maddie was named the Geneseo Female Athlete of the Year and she won the Illinois Athletic Directors Association Scholarship Award.

A family atmosphere is something Travis worked to create among the coaching staff at Geneseo.

Nurturing the relationship between coach and athlete is something Travis believes helps athletes flourish and gives coaches a chance to succeed.

He knows what that requires having spent 28 years as a football assistant coach.

“He doesn’t ask for anything in return except for your best,” Geneseo football coach Larry Johnsen Jr. said. “He just goes about it like it’s just a part of the job to be that caring person.”

Johnsen said Travis’ work behind the scenes with the help of his assistant, Jill Harrington, allows him to take a backseat until the time comes when he's needed to take charge of a situation.

Travis’ has championed the three-sport athlete maintaining that everyone brings something to the team even if it’s just that level of commitment.

“We try to make our students as competitive as possible not only on the playing field but in the real world,” Travis said. “I want people to pick Geneseo students for a job because they are hard workers and they put in a lot of time and energy.

With Mike Haugse retiring as principal, Travis wants to pick up the mantle and continue to make the community a special place.

It will be a transition for the Mackeys, who have spent most of their lives helping with the his job.

However, Travis’ legacy as athletic director will remain imprinted in the family atmosphere his family helped cultivate.

“The driving force for me was building strong leaders with our coaches and strong leaders with our athletes,” said Travis of his time as athletic director. “The idea is to take that to another level. Not just for our coaches and athletes but for the whole student body to really take on that leadership.”