Justin Mackey, Assistant Athletic Director, Student-Athlete Development/University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
KU Degree: BGS Communication Studies (2004), MA Communication Studies (2008)
Why he’s a Hawk to Watch:
Justin works with student athletes to help them succeed off the court. He worked with KU Athletics for nine years before joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he works directly with the men’s basketball team.
I consider my biggest achievements making a difference in the lives of the student-athletes I work with. A couple of my most notable would be the role I played in seeing 5 Jayhawks seniors walk down the hill a couple months after being a part of the 2008 Men’s Basketball National Championship and seeing every senior student-athlete I ever worked with at KU earn their degree in Lawrence. At UAB, I am very proud of our NCAA Tournament run in 2015 and of the community service initiatives I helped form which have led to more 6,000 hours of community service over the last 3 years.
What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?
My lowest career moment to this point came during a mass transition at UAB. We went through a lot of restructuring. It was shortly after I accepted the position here and there was a lot of uncertainty. I kept my head down and worked hard on program implementation and in my daily tasks. I also kept a very positive outlook and tried to keep those around me positive. In the end it lead to a promotion for me, an office that is functioning better than ever, and great programming for our student-athletes.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
I consider myself an opportunist and do not like to lock myself into specific goals when it comes to position, title, university, etc. However, I hope to be continuing to make a difference in the lives of others and working with a competitive basketball program at the D1 level. My positions have taken me to some amazing places and I have worked with some extraordinary people–I want to continue to do so.
What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?
To enjoy the moment! Many opportunities take time to develop. When I was younger I was extremely impatient. I still am, as I believe in making things happen. However, slowing down and looking at the big picture has helped me to enjoy the moment more. We get to experience many great moments in our life but when we are constantly looking ahead the moments are not as enjoyable.
What’s your best career pro-tip?
Bring positive energy to your workplace every day. There will be rough days, lazy days, frustrating days, etc. However, bringing positive energy to the workplace every day is a choice. If you do this, you will succeed.
What do you do after you’ve clocked out?
My hours are long and non-traditional. I am also fortunate that my top hobby is sports and I get the opportunity to blend my passion and my career in my work. When I am away from the office I stay very involved in the community through elementary reading programs, hospital visits, and working with groups of people with disabilities. I also enjoy keeping myself in shape so the weight room or a nice trail are part of my daily routine!
What is a fun fact about you that no one knows?
For nine years I got to call Allen Fieldhouse my office. In the four years since I left Lawrence for Birmingham I always make time to visit AFH on my return trips to Lawrence. While I love seeing people and catching up, I always take 15-20 minutes to sit on the bleachers in the fieldhouse and reflect on the amazing times I had there and the incredible people I have been blessed to meet and call friends and family through KU and athletics.