Summit High School athletic and activities director steps away from school and district after 23 years

After five years of serving as the athletic and activities director for Summit High School —and being with the Summit School District for 23 years — Travis Avery has decided to step away from the school district in order to look after his longterm health.

Over the last five school years, Avery has managed the high school’s 18 athletic programs and 20 clubs or after-school activities. With no assistant athletic and activities director — except for Melissa Dhyne serving as the athletics and activities secretary — the late hours, scheduling conflicts and other demands of the job eventually took its toll on Avery. 

“This job is a lot,” Avery said of his decision to step down from his position at Summit High School. “A lot is demanded of it. A lot of time, a lot of hours in a week, a lot of late hours, a lot of Saturdays and weekend stuff.”

Avery was in charge of setting up and tearing down home games, scheduling events, hiring new coaches and much more. The workload often resulted in him feeling like he was being spread thin and as a result, he said it was starting to wear on his health.

“It is trying to be smart with my own health,” Avery said. “Avoid being burned out and those life factors played into it. From a health standpoint I needed to step away.”

Avery has strong ties to the county and the school district. He came to Summit County after being born and raised in Texas and playing Division-I soccer.

Before being named the Summit High School athletic and activities director at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic school year, Avery served as the Summit High School boys and girls soccer coach for six seasons, the school’s emergency response coordinator for several years and was the Summit Middle School athletic director for eight years before that. 

Throughout his time as the athletic and activities director at Summit High School, Avery has helped shape a culture of success. This success has been especially prevalent over the last two school years as many athletic programs have seen historic success.

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Recent athletic program accolades include the Summit baseball team making the state championship tournament for the first time in program history, the girls basketball team making back-to-back playoff appearances, the girls rugby team winning two more state titles, cross-country and track runner Ella Hagen winning two state titles, the boys soccer team making it to the state semifinal match, the girls volleyball team making it back to the regional tournament  and the football team hosting its first home playoff game in over a decade.

“For this job particularly, the thing that gives satisfaction is the work that the coaches and athletes have put in for creating an environment that has led to that success,” Avery said. “It is not one particular achievement over another, but the work that has been done behind the scenes and daily in practice to foster an environment where the things we have culminated with this year have been possible.” 

Beyond the work done daily in practice by the Summit athletic teams, Avery attributes the recent success of Summit athletic programs to the way he has gone about hiring new coaches.

“In our hiring process I have tried to hire coaches that have expertise in their sport,” Avery said. “Either they have expertise from beyond the high school level and/or that is combined with previous coaching experience.Trying to raise the bar for who we hire.”

More importantly than experience in their sport, Avery says he would also consider what environment the coaching candidate would bring to the sports program and weigh whether that environment would bring success to the program while also keeping student athletes happy. 

Once a coach was in place, Avery then took the time with the coach to work on a multi-year plan of how they were going to improve their program.

“If you have been doing one thing and it has led to a certain level of performance, what can we do differently to get to the next level of performance?” Avery said of the talks he had with coaches. “Those couple of things have been important parts of our process.”

With freshman and senior daughters in the building for the 2023-24 school year, it was a tough decision for Avery to decide to leave his role.

He says he has really enjoyed the last two years at Summit, and will always hold the relationships he made with coaches and athletes close to his heart.

“I am going to miss working with coaches,” Avery said. “We have a lot of great coaches with a passion for their programs. I will certainly miss being around student athletes. It is one of the most positive things you can do at a school — work with kids that want to be successful in the thing they are doing.”

Avery currently does not have a plan for what he will do in the future, but will remain in the county and will attend Summit athletic events to cheer on his two daughters and the school’s teams.

Summit High School’s new co-principal Douglas Blake is currently tasked with the hiring of a new athletic and activities director. Blake is currently in the hiring process and weighing potential candidates for the job ahead of the 2023-24 school year.