Football, work keep Lyons Township’s Harris busy
81 S. La Grange Road,
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. everyday
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:05AM
Second in a series
LA GRANGE — Travis Tuomey knows what it’s like to have a busy schedule like Matthew Harris, Lyons Township’s standout two-sport athlete.
Tuomey was a student-athlete himself at LT, but in one sport back in the 1980s. Tuomey worked a part-time job and competed in wrestling for former coach Mark King. He even qualified for the state meet in 1986.
At the same time, Tuomey worked at Amlings Flowers to make a few extra bucks.
Now, years later, Tuomey has become a small business owner. Tuomey and two of his family members co-own four Red Mango frozen yogurt shops in the Chicago area. The Dallas-based company has more than 200 international franchises. In the past year, Tuomey said his La Grange store ranks third in sales among all Red Mango shops, trailing franchises in Dubai and Mexico.
Harris is one of more than 20 part-time employees working at Red Mango in La Grange. Red Mango’s staff is comprised of high school and college students. In addition to LT students, the Red Mango shop also draws employees from Nazareth Academy, Hinsdale Central and Riverside-Brookfield and from several colleges.
“It’s been a great experience,” Harris said. “They have been great when you come to work after practice.”
It has been a familiar routine for Harris this summer, who has participated in early morning workouts in football only to arrive at Red Mango for an afternoon or evening shift. Tuomey’s scheduling flexibility has been key to Harris’ work production.
Just how do you make out a work schedule for a high school athlete who participates in summer practices, weightlifting sessions and even occasional 7-on-7 scrimmages? Harris started working at Red Mango during track and field season, so Tuomey had to make a schedule around Harris’ practices and competitions.
“Matt started in the spring,” Tuomey said. “He shows an amazing balance between athletics and work. I couldn’t be more proud of him. I know football is important. He’s found that balance between work and athletics.”
Harris, a La Grange resident, even comes into the shop on his off days. He took the job to also help out with a little income at home.
“It’s not only a work place, but it’s a hangout spot,” Harris said.
As an LT graduate, Tuomey remains a big supporter of his alma mater’s athletic program. He not only watched a few LT games last season, but sponsored the team with a banner at home games at Bennett Field in Western Springs.
“He’s amazing,” Tuomey said of Harris’ football success.
Harris verbally committed to Northwestern July 12, selecting the Wildcats over Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and a few Mid-American Conference schools. Recruiting picked up for the defensive back/wide receiver in the May evaluation period as Harris went on to finish the track and field season as the Class 3A runner-up in the long jump.
Northwestern has recruited Harris as a cornerback for next season.
Tuomey’s involvement doesn’t end at football games. He has attended lacrosse games and school plays involving his employees.
“I try to go to everything I possibly can,” Tuomey said. “My philosophy is to support the kids.”
If there is a competition for the best boss, Tuomey should finish near the top. He strives to keep his staff happy and hopes they bring that attitude to their work. Academics, family events and athletics come first. He wants his staff to enjoy their teen years and has even given an employee time off to attend a rock concert.
Tuomey has used his experiences as an athlete to run his franchises. He considers his staff as a team, not much different than that on a playing field.
“When people come together, they can accomplish amazing things,” Tuomey said. “Everything at LT definitely molded me in that area. It’s a great high school with great coaches and I had great teammates.”
Tuomey’s other Red Mango shops are located in Rogers Park and McHenry and his partners will open an Orland Park location later this month.