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Tavia Hunt: Connecting Women On and Off the Field for Community Service

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She married into a legendary family, roots sprouting from oil tycoon H. L. Hunt, at one time one of the wealthiest men in the United States. Her father-in-law, Lamar Hunt, inscribed his own name in the history books by creating the American Football League and coining the moniker Super Bowl. Her husband, Clark Hunt, is part owner, Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs and a founding investor-owner in Major League Soccer. But Tavia Hunt is not one to sit back and take in the action from the sidelines. Throughout her 24-year marriage to Clark, she has taken on roles of leadership and mentoring, contributing to her beloved team, her family and the legacy that is the Hunts.

“I knew Lamar well and think the world of him and my mother-in-law, Norma, whom I love with all my heart. Anything I can do to preserve their legacy and help people remember the amazing things they did for the great cities of Kansas City and Dallas is my privilege. I’ve been attending the Super Bowl for 26 years now, which is only half of the Super Bowls Norma has seen. She’s the only woman to have seen them all,” remarked Tavia. “I’m a huge sports fan, and I enjoy seeing Clark have success in the NFL and MLS.”

KC Roots
This 46-year-old mother of three grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the granddaughter of a nondenominational pastor, raised in a Christian environment that deeply influences her today. Her family still lives in Lee’s Summit, and even though she now resides in Dallas, her community ties allow her to make frequent trips back home. Her love of Kansas City and her treasured Chiefs runs deep, as only a true fan can appreciate.

“Clark had to marry a born and bred Chiefs’ fan, and I was a ‘Raider-Hater’ from watching games with my dad from a very young age,” she laughed. “I tell Tammy Reid that she’s the head coach of the head coach and I’m the boss of the boss.”

As a teenager, Tavia entered the world of pageant competition on the recommendation of a neighbor and won Miss Lee’s Summit. She went on to compete in other pageants, eventually taking the crown of Miss Kansas USA and finishing second runner up in the Miss USA contest. Her work in pageantry honed her eye for fashion and presenting a polished look.

She studied political science at UMKC, and it was after her sophomore year, at the age of 19, that she interned with the Chiefs and encountered Clark Hunt. “We met at the Chiefs’ kickoff luncheon,” she smiled. “It’s ironic because my mother-in-law, Norma Hunt, met Lamar as a volunteer teacher for the team, also at a luncheon. They were married for 42 years.” At the age of 22, just after graduating from UMKC, Tavia married Clark. Her family now includes daughters Gracie, 18, and Ava, 11, and son Knobel, 15.

Lifting Up
Tavia is in her 26th season with the Chiefs, having been involved with the Chiefs’ Women’s Organization since her first encounter. “I love being a leader of it and organizing events to familiarize our extended football family with Kansas City and plug them into serving in the community. It bonds us together on the field and off the field to gather to serve the community and enjoy fellowship together. We might be feeding the hungry at Harvesters or building homes with Habitat for Humanity; it’s a great way to give back to the community. It’s more than financial gifts; it’s the hands-on lifting up of others.”

Her time guiding and supporting the wives and girlfriends is special and sweet. “We have rocked colicky babies at Operation Breakthrough and served the homeless at various soup kitchens,” she said. “There’s lots of fun to be had and the effort and heart are always there.”

Not only is she the director for the Chiefs’ Women’s Organization, she takes an active role with the Chiefs’ cheerleading squad, from overseeing the calendar to judging the tryouts and even designing the uniforms. “About ten years ago, we hired Stephanie Judah to direct the Chiefs’ cheerleaders,” Tavia recalled. “In my opinion, she has created one of the finest professional cheerleading squads in the United States. She’s constantly recognized for her efforts, and we’re lucky to have her.”

Creating Change
While her fashion sense has parlayed into incredible outfits for the cheerleaders, the National Football League also came calling for Tavia’s fashion sense and design abilities. Women were no longer willing to put up with wearing the oversized and baggy T-shirts and jerseys of men. “It was so overdue; we needed real female fashion in the NFL. I attended the first NFL Style Lounge in New York City and wanted to bring the concept to KC.

“I started the KC Style Lounge after the NFL Women’s Apparel campaign in 2011. It’s grown every year,” she commented. “Two years ago, we partnered with KC Fashion Week as the kickoff event, and it’s been a sellout every year. We added players, players’ wives and a design contest for local designers to the runway shows. We have area retailers style our branded merchandise to show that fans can showcase their style and fandom any way they choose, from sideline chic to cocktail couture. The choices are limitless.”

Giving Hearts
While she is highly invested in promoting the Chiefs’ brand, Tavia is also deeply involved in charitable causes. “In KC, we have the best community and the best fan base in the entire country. It’s important for Clark and me to invest and give back to that community, and we’ve chosen to do this with a focus on children and hunger,” she commented. “We’re passionate about being involved and present for the fans and the organizations who support us.”

Traditions are an important part of the Hunt family legacy. Tavia shares a favorite family custom that comes from Lamar called Pits and Perks. “Every time we sit down for a family dinner, which is a priority, we go around the table and each person says what their ‘pit’ was for the day. Then we go around and tell the ‘perk,’” she stated. “It’s an incredible touch point to be able to share. The best thing is that we’ve had hundreds of people over the years tell us they took Lamar’s example of Pits and Perks to incorporate into their own family dinners.”

Legacy of Humility
Lamar Hunt created a sporting empire that continues to offer Americans an incredible love for the teams they follow, whether that’s the Chiefs, FC Dallas or even the Chicago Bulls, which he founded. It would seem that a larger-than-life individual would be an overpowering man to engage, but Tavia sees it another way.

“He was the kindest and most humble person God ever created. He made everyone feel comfortable. He didn’t care if you were a janitor or CEO; he always asked about your family. I’ve seen that kindness transferred to Clark,” she stated. “One time I remember Lamar had a safety pin holding his glasses together because he was too busy to get them fixed. He probably wore them for a month until Norma made him get them fixed. That is just how unassuming he was.”

When asked about the 2017 season for the KC Chiefs, Tavia offered the following encouragement for 2018. “This season was definitely a roller coaster that ended short of our goal of winning the Super Bowl. However, we won the division in back-to-back years, and you have no chance of making the Super Bowl if you don’t make the playoffs,” Tavia shared. “I’m looking forward to this next year knowing that General Manager Brett Veach and Coach Reid are already working on improving the roster and have a plan and the determination that will, hopefully, take the team further in 2018.”

When you ask Tavia about her accomplishments, she points to her service in the Dallas and Kansas City communities, raising money for important causes. She works hard to instill those values of helping others in her children. She also points to the fulfillment she enjoys from mentoring young women, enabling them to gain self-awareness and self-confidence. These influences and many more clearly demonstrate how important Tavia’s contributions are to the Hunt family legacy. While her lists of tasks are long and much rests on her shoulders, Tavia easily offers up her recipe for success for others to employ.

“My takeaway words are faith, family and both kinds of football,” she laughed. “There’s nothing more important to us.”