Travis B Key is a two-time graduate of the School of Packaging at Michigan State University, earning a B.S. in 2007 and a M.S. in 2012. In 2004, Key earned an athletic scholarship after joining the Michigan State University football team as a walk-on his freshman year. As a student-athlete he was named to four consecutive academic All Big-Ten teams, named honorable mention All-Big-Ten, and served as team captain during his senior campaign. Key went on to have a two-and-a-half-year professional football career that included stints with the National Football League’s Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, and Indianapolis organizations as well as the Canadian Football League’s Montreal organization.
After retiring from professional football in 2010, Key began his career as a project engineer with Fellows Incorporated in Itasca, IL. Key then spent time working for the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, MI as a packaging engineer, focusing on cost optimization and innovation. In these roles, Key gained experience in cross functional team management, product development and design, prototype creation, cost analysis, distribution dynamics, and procurement. Key is currently a Sales Director at WestRock.
Serving as Associate Director, Key was an instrumental part in bringing the 4th and 1 Football Camp to East Lansing, MI in 2011. 4th and 1 is a non-profit football, ACT prep, life skills, and character development camp that is 100% free to attend for student-athletes that show a strong desire to attend college.
4th and 1 East Lansing transitioned to APEX Academy in 2015, a non-profit organization that Key co-founded with his friend and former Spartan teammate Kaleb Thornhill. APEX Academy’s purpose is to ENGAGE, EDUCATE, AND EMPOWER student-athletes from under resourced backgrounds that lack the support and resources needed to properly prepare for and achieve their goals of attending and completing college. The mission of APEX Academy aims to provide under-resourced student-athletes with a wide range of tools necessary for college & career success, while closing the achievement gap.
Key is the co-author of a book titled: Beyond the Gridiron: How to Successfully Transition into Collegiate Football. The focus of the book is to equip student-athletes with the tools to overcome the academic, mental, physical, and social challenges of collegiate athletics in order to position them for success on and off the field. Key frequently speaks to amateur and professional athletes across the country, empowering them to reach their full potential beyond their sport.
Key has a passion for influencing and developing people to defeat life’s challenges and break through the negative cycles of hate, crime, sickness, poverty, and illiteracy. In his mind, it all starts with our youth and that is where his focus tends to be. A devoted Christian, husband, and father, Key resides in Michigan with his wife and three children.
Ashton Henderson was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida in a Christian home. From a very early age, his parents knew that God had a special calling on his life, but he had to trust him to do his will. Growing up in a middle-class family, his parents worked extremely hard and made sacrifices to make sure he and his older brother, Antonio Henderson, had everything to be successful in life. His parents continued to sacrifice as they put him into private school to gain a great education and continue to strengthen his relationship with Christ along the way. He will always be indebted for their sacrifices because they nurtured and trained him to strive for excellence. They both taught their children what it means to be successful and not to make excuses when adverse situations arise in their lives. They showed them how to persevere and seek God for counsel and guidance through it all.
In the fall of 2006, Ashton was fortunate to choose Michigan State University over the University of Mississippi and UCLA to play Division I collegiate football. He was blessed to have a cornucopia of Division I offers and thoroughly enjoyed going through the recruiting process. He had a pretty successful career at Michigan State with notable starts against Michigan, Notre Dame, and Iowa just to name a few. He was named Defensive Attack Force Player of the week in 2007 for his performance against the Iowa Hawkeyes. MSU ended up losing in triple overtime, but it was one of his best performances in his career.
His most notable moment as a football player came early in his career. He was able to return a blocked punt for thirty-three yards to help fuel the greatest comeback in NCAA Division I football history during his freshman year. Many would argue that his touchdown helped provide the spark the team needed to get on track. MSU overcame a thirty-five-point deficit, and that was the day Ashton realized anything in life was possible.
After earning his Advertising degree from Michigan State University in 2010, his playing days came to an end due to severely spraining his MCL during his senior season. He could not recover and get back to his potential to excel on the field. He was discouraged, devastated, and looking for the next challenge in his life.
He served as a graduate assistant in Student-Athlete Support services at Michigan State University and earned his master’s degree in Public Relations. Ashton obtained a role as an Academic Program Specialist for football and the men’s and women’s track and field program at Florida State University before moving on to become the Associate Director of Football Academics at Clemson.
Currently, he has the opportunity to utilize his platform as an Associate Director of Football Academics and Seminole Leadership Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and is happily married to Jasmyne. He is currently enrolled in the Florida State University MBA program and is expected to graduate in 2019.