Former Miami University basketball player Jamie Mahaffey will officially start as the fourth Talawanda High School athletic director in four years next Friday, but he has spent a lot of time in his new office over the past few weeks getting an early start on the job.
Mahaffey played for Miami from 1991 to 1995, two years each under coaches Joby Wright and Herb Sendek. In that time, he got to know the Oxford community and jumped at the chance to apply for the Talawanda job when it came open last month.
“There are a lot of classy people here. They took care of me when I was here,” he said, adding he and teammates — guys like Devin Davis, Derek Cross, Kevin Beard and Talawanda’s own Kyle Johnson — hung out together and found a role in the community.
“I thought the guys really accepted the community and the community really accepted us. There are a lot of memories but no one really stands out. I remember the transition as an African American male to a largely white community and being accepted.”
Mahaffey brings nearly 16 years in high school sports administration and coaching to the job at Talawanda. He has spent those years at North College Hill High School, where he’s also served as dean of students in recent years.
Having three jobs which are each, essentially, full-time jobs, Mahaffey said he’d found the position draining. He looks forward to the Talawanda post where he can concentrate on doing one job and doing it well, building the athletic program and working with the athletes, coaches, parents and community.
Mahaffey said a big part of his focus will be build character in the young people he coaches or works with.
“Colleges look at character, and I want to make sure we have character here,” Mahaffey said.
Mahaffey came to Miami from Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati and after leaving Miami played basketball for six-and-a-half years in Spain and South America before returning home and going to work in the corporate world. He worked at Steelcase, an office furniture firm in Dayton.
Mahaffey later started as an educational aide before finding his way into the post as assistant athletic director. He had not planned on coaching but found himself coach of the North College Hill high school team, where successes included three state titles and two players making it into the pros.
“I had great mentors,” he said. “They instilled in me a lot of character.”
Those mentors included coaches at Miami — Charlie Coles, Thad Matta and Sean Miller — as well as Joe Nichols, the AD at North College Hill for 38 years, who brought him in as assistant and later retired, leaving the post available for Mahaffey. He also considers his predecessor at Talawanda, John Thomas, as a mentor, too.
Mahaffey and his wife Robyn have been married 17 years and have three children: Danielle, 13, a freshman this fall; Evan, 10, in fifth grade; and Eric, 7, in third grade. They plan to continue living in the Northwest School District.
He admitted to being a bit overwhelmed in recent weeks, leaving a familiar job and trying to settle into a new one. A major effort has been making sure all the coaches’ certifications and training requirements are up-to-date to start fall sports next month.
“Fall’s coming fast,” he said.