Travis Liller comes full circle as new athletic director at Keyser High

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Travis Liller

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - The Mineral County Board of Education Tuesday approved the placement of Keyser native Travis Liller as the new athletic director at Keyser High School.

Liller will officially assume his new role upon the completion of current athletic director Shawn White’s tenure on April 12.

Liller is of course a familiar face at Keyser High School, being a 2009 graduate of KHS, as well as a coach at the school and in the community for many years. Liller is not only familiar to Keyser, but is actually familiar to the role of athletic director, having served as the athletic director at Petersburg last year.

“I was the athletic director last year at Petersburg High School, and that entails actually being the athletic director at both the high school and the middle school,” he said. “That position is also mixed in with being the Dean of Students there as well. As with anything, at that level, you jump in and it is a baptism by fire kind of thing.”

Liller feels strongly that his vast experience coaching a variety of sports and in different settings and age levels will help him in his role as athletic director working with not just coaches, but also the student-athletes.

“Without a doubt it helps. When you have the experience of coaching, especially coaching a bunch of different sports, you understand where the coach and athlete is coming from. It definitely is a plus, it is something that has helped me tremendously when it comes to communicating with the coaches and knowing what it is they need or want.”

According to Liller, “Not that I know everything about every sport, but once I know something about a sport it’s a lot easier to say ‘well, that’s a need, not just a want,’ when there is a request for something. That’s part of the many facets of an athletic director’s duties, signing off on purchase orders and saying ‘okay, we need this, or this is something that can wait until later.’”

Liller’s coaching experience runs the gamut, from a multitude of sports, age levels and location, specifically in Mineral and Grant counties.

“As far as coaching, ever since the year after I graduated I have been coaching track at the middle and high school level, I did a year of golf, I’ve helped out with football and even cross country. I was the baseball manager for a Hot Stove team for two years, but really both basketball and track have been the longest running,” Liller explained.

According to Liller, “in basketball, it started out with church league, then went to Keyser Middle School, then Union varsity where we were co-PVC champions. Then I did both varsity and middle school at the same time in my second year a Union.  Then I went to help out Petersburg Middle School the next two years.”  

“At track, it was originally at Keyser High School, then I went to Union and became the head middle school track coach for two seasons and then onto Petersburg Middle School where I was the head middle school coach for two years,” Liller detailed.

Just as Liller maintains a diverse coaching portfolio full of varied experiences, so too is his portfolio as it relates to teaching and work as an administrator. Again, his varied experiences making him an ideal pick for the role of athletic director at Keyser High School.

“I graduated from Keyser in 2009, and while there was involved in track as my main athletic focus. After that, I went to Shepherd University and then got a master’s degree from Salem University, and that’s where the administration part comes in.  Teaching-wise, I started subbing in 2014 and my first long-term position in Grant County was at Petersburg High School for the second semester,” Liller explained.  

“Then I went to Union as a special education teacher and did English in high school there as well. From there, it was back to Petersburg teaching seventh grade English and that lasted until I became the dean of students and athletic director at Petersburg.  Now, I teach special education at Keyser Middle School and in addition will also assume the role of athletic director at Keyser High School on April 12,” Liller detailed.

In his roles over the years as student-athlete, coach, teacher and administrator, Liller has learned first-hand the valuable role sports can play in developing better students, and ultimately better citizens.  

According to Liller, “For me at least, sports taught me how to have a work ethic, discipline, and integrity. Sports teach accountability for yourself and for others. It brings on mental toughness that allows you to stick in there when things get rough. At the same time, it breeds an appreciation for everything you have and for the hard work and how it pays off.

“I'm looking forward to working with the Keyser High School coaches, athletes, parents, and community in continuing the growth and excellence in our student-centered athletics. We will continue the development of all our athletes and hold our expectations high as the ‘Tornado Warning’ will be our claim to competition that we are working hard to be the best teams both in competition and in the classroom,” Liller declared.

According to Liller, “The ultimate goal is that Golden Tornado Athletics will be a model athletics program, recognized for creating champions in the classroom, in competition, and in life. As we continue to work through this pandemic as an athletic program and a community, I know that we will all get through it and move forward together. KEYSER PRIDE!”

As Liller will look to build a bright future for all things Golden Tornado Athletics, he recognizes the value in honoring the proud, more than century-old successes and traditions of the Black and Gold’s storied past.

“I hope we find ways to recognize and glorify some of that history and work it into some of the stuff that we do and display. Once I hit the ground running, I’ll take the time to look at that history that at one time I probably did know, and get that fresh in my head and figure out a plan to commemorate everything and recognize everybody past and present,” Liller explained.

Sometimes, the pieces all just fit together, at the right time and at the right place. That’s been the experience for Travis Liller, a Golden Tornado alum that ventured away for college, and then professionally ventured one county over to begin his teaching and administrative career. A year ago, Liller returned to Mineral County to teach, then with the naming of him as Keyser’s next athletic director, you might say things have now come full circle.

In his own words, “Well, it’s really just like a homecoming.  My end goal has always been to come back here to Keyser at some point. I went to Grant County, I loved it in Grant County, I still love Grant County, but it just seemed like it was time for me to move on and come back home. It just so happened now that this position opened up, and I did enjoy being an athletic director, and it just felt like the right move for me to make.”