The Travis Fox era has officially begun at Aptos High, as he recently stepped in as athletics director. 

“It’s something I always wanted to do. It was a dream job to become an athletic director,” he said. “The timing worked out and things started to fall into place. So this was the next jump in my career that I wanted to take.”

Fox had eight years of experience as a coach, teacher and activities director at Grand Valley High School in Colorado. He taught leadership classes, AP human geography, AP U.S. history and served the past two years as activities director.

Fox, 30, will replace Mark Dorfman, who decided to step down after 30 years.

“Time for someone with new energy and new vision to take over,” Dorfman wrote in an email when he announced his retirement.

During his tenure as athletic director, Dorfman led Aptos High to 232 Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League titles, including 21 as the track coach, and 30 Central Coast Section championships.

Dorfman was an assistant football coach for 26 years but took a few years off when he took over as the track and field coach from 1995 to 2008.

Dorfman officially announced he was stepping down at the beginning of June, but the idea of retiring started brewing sometime in November of 2018.

Dorfman said he never pictured himself staying around as long as he did but something kept bringing him back.

“The dedication of our student-athletes and coaches, they inspired me,” he said.

Aptos principal Peggy Pughe said she was a bit concerned about finding a replacement for Dorfman. 

“Then we came across Travis (Fox) and he’s just been wonderful since the time we met him,” she said. “We’re really excited and it’s going to be a great fit for this school.”

Pughe said Dorfman left the athletics department in strong shape but she likes some of the new ideas Fox brought up during the interview process, including the thought of streaming live events.

Pughe said Fox told her that he’s proud and thrilled by what Dorfman built during his time at Aptos. 

“Mark (Dorfman) would be the first to say it’s not Mark, it’s the community,” she said. “(Fox) feels really excited about the idea of continuing the great sports program and that student-athlete perspective.” 

Mark Dorfman, center, stands with Robert “Bobby” Salazar, left, and Gina Castaneda during an awards ceremony. (contributed by Aptos High) 

Fox said he knows Dorfman had great relationships with everybody he met and wants to keep that connection well alive.

“At the end of the day there’s checkboxes to go through but his relationships I think are what set him apart,”  Fox said of Dorfman.

Pughe said she believes Fox understands the students are not just athletes and they are going to school to get a full education. 

“Mark (Dorfman) really encouraged that and saw it was all part of one big organism,” she said. 

Fox said athletics is a huge part of the education process.

“It had a huge role in my life,” he said.

Fox grew up playing any sport he could get involved with but mainly focused on basketball and football when he got to high school. 

During the mid-2000s, Fox played hoops at Palmer High in Colorado Springs alongside Reggie Jackson, who plays for the Detroit Pistons, and Elgin Fitzgerald, who played at Dartmouth University and is now a coach in Colorado Springs. 

Fox made his way to the western slope via Colorado Mesa University. 

He coached nine years in the high school ranks and three spring/summer seasons with the Colorado Premier Basketball Club spearheaded by former NBA player Keith Van Horn.

“It was pretty sweet working with Keith (Van Horn) and being around hoops all summer,” Fox said.

Fox was the program coordinator for the youth and high school teams ranging from U-10 to U-17. He was also the head coach of the competitive U15-17 teams.

“I enjoyed the administration side of things and being around sports, watching kids compete and watching kids grow, that’s a pretty special experience,” Fox said.

Fox has two younger brothers who both played college basketball and were successful at the Division II level.

Shane Fox played at Metro State, while Nicholas Fox played at Dallas Baptist University. 

Shane currently coaches basketball at Evergreen High in Colorado and Nick is the coach at Cedarville University in Ohio.

Fox said participating and coaching sports has always been a large part of his family’s life.

“I knew working in education and being a coach and working in high school athletics has always been a dream job,” Fox said. “This was the perfect fit for me.”

Pughe said the role of an athletic director is part of the leadership of the school and that means staying connected to the community, including the Aptos Sports Foundation.

“(Fox) has got some work to do to build those relationships but we’re all behind him and doing that along with him,” she said.

Pughe said a couple of key things she told Fox is to keep the lines of communication open and don’t be afraid to ask questions when necessary. 

“We all want (Fox) to do well because when he does well that means that our athletes and campus culture is in good shape,” she said. 

Fox said he was able to shadow Dorfman for a little more than two weeks. 

Fox admits there is a bit of that pressure for him to keep the legacy alive but is confident he can keep it going. 

“I think anyone coming in would be foolish to try and change the systems in process because they’re so successful and they work,” Fox said. “So I’m gonna come in and just try to keep all the positives going.” 


Editor’s Note: This article will be published in the July 26 edition of the Pajaronian.

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