The recent positive momentum of Treynor athletics is lasting a little longer for Gail Hartigan and JoEllen Travis.
Both coaches received prestigious honors this week from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. Hartigan was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday during a ceremony in Fargo, N.D. Travis earned Assistant Coach of the Year on Wednesday, beating out five other finalists for an award encompassing all girls sports.
A third western Iowa representative, the late Phil Hummel of Woodbine, also joined the Hall of Fame for his long and successful efforts with the school’s track and cross country teams.
Travis joked that she should buy a lottery ticket after a whirlwind stretch that included her Cardinals winning the Iowa Class 2-A state softball tournament last week. The Treynor baseball team also made state this summer.
Travis’ latest accolade reflects her overall body of work, including as an assistant with the basketball program. She came on to the basketball team under Hartigan for the 1993-94 season — when the Treynor girls won the Class 1-A state title.
“I feel like I’m on (Hartigan’s) coattails a little bit on that,” Travis said of the award. “But it is also nice to know that there is work you do with those young kids trying to prepare them for the varsity level and you get recognized for that.”
The honor takes into consideration factors such as years of service, team records and accomplishments, other professional recognition and community work. Among other activities, Travis is involved with the Iowa Girls Coaches Association for softball and is on an advisory committee for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.
Travis said her approach as an assistant can be more patient than as a head coach. Also a first-grade teacher, she can fall back on her elementary education training to make sure girls understand a concept — even if they have to go through it multiple times.
Plus, it never hurts to work with an accomplished colleague and friend like Hartigan. Travis and her husband, Mike, were even able to grab a meal with Hartigan and her husband, Tom, while in Fargo.
“The fact that Gail was going in the Hall of Fame, I think that had a little bearing on my winning,” Travis said.
Hartigan’s own coaching accomplishments compare favorably with any across the state. The 59-year-old became the 13th coach in Iowa girls basketball history — and first woman — to record 600 career wins last winter. She currently owns a 601-156 mark and has led 13 Treynor teams to state during her 31-year stint.
She also remains the school’s track coach. Treynor won 19 straight Western Iowa Conference crowns with her from 1983 to 2001 and has claimed four of the past seven.
In volleyball, Hartigan compiled a 490-112 record as a coach and co-coach from 1991 to 2006, taking 12 teams to state.
Hartigan’s reaction to her national award: She isn’t old enough for any kind of career achievement.
“It’s one of those things where you’re in coaching because you love it,” Hartigan said. “You go day to day and year to year with the kids that you have and don’t really think about things like that. So when it does come and you’re up there and listening to all these amazing stories and you get up there and hear about stuff you’ve done, it’s like, ‘Really.’”
“It’s one of those surreal things where you don’t believe it’s actually happening to you.”
Hartigan, who reevaluates her coaching situation every year, said she’ll be back again. That won’t change as long as she continues to love her work and the administration isn’t “ready to get rid of me.”