A.D. deserves a better coaching fate from this community
When you think of the community’s leading authorities in track and field, Rick Brown and Anthony Davis immediately come to mind.
Understandably, South Tahoe High has recognized Brown’s talents for years, keeping the off-campus coach in charge of the boys track and field team.
Naturally, then, you’d assume that Davis is head of the boys or girls program at Whittell High School.
Well, then he’s a paid assistant coach?
A year ago at this time, he was a Whittell track assistant, but when Dan Makley resigned following the state championships last spring, administrators quickly forgot about Davis. They made him feel like a third wheel, a last-resort choice as a coach.
“It’s almost like being on your deathbed and doctors not telling you anything, but they’re killing you at the same time,” Davis said. “This is (nonsense), because when you really look at it, you’re messing with my livelihood.”
Why Davis doesn’t have a more significant track and field or cross country position at one of the local schools is perplexing.
Over the past decade, few people have meant more to the running and track community than Davis. Remember how you’d show up for the Harvest Run or a Lake Tahoe Marathon race at 7 or 8 a.m. and were thankful that you weren’t Davis, stranded for the day starting races and compiling results?
You’ve also seen him volunteering to direct the middle school Olympics and giving up his summer nights to resurrect the All-Comers meets – for your kids.
Despite the early hours of his races, he always greeted you with his patented friendly smile, handshake and an energy that revealed how much he loved what he was doing.
He’s also provided a track club for youths over the past decade and worked as an assistant and volunteer coach at both STHS and WHS.
“I’ve always found him to be dedicated to the youth of this community,” Brown said. “His dedication is unquestionable, and I don’t understand how he can be overlooked for a coaching position at a school.
“To continually phase him out with prior acknowledgement just doesn’t seem fair. I think Anthony has a lot to give to the track community on both sides of the state line, and I thought that was a severe injustice to him.”
Davis showed what he could do as a head coach, leading a new cross country running program at Lake Tahoe Community College to the Golden Valley Conference title in 1995.
“The man’s knowledge of the sport exceeds anyone in this town, and it’s sad that someone hasn’t snatched onto him full-time,” Brown said.
Davis claims Whittell never showed any interest in him as a coach when Brian Rippet was inserted as the new track and field coach late last year. When he contacted Rippet, he was initially told that the school was looking for other candidates to fill the paid assistant position. After filling the position, Davis was contacted about the possibility of working with the team’s throwers as an unpaid volunteer assistant.
“It’s almost like the schools are saying, ‘If we can’t find anyone else, we’ll call you.’ I’m not into that,” Davis said. “So now I’m thinking, ‘What did I do that was so wrong that they didn’t want me to come back?’
“I’ll assume as an off-campus coach, we do our job probably better than a teacher does. We know we’re under the spotlight and we realize that we have to rise to that extra standard because we’re not on-campus.”
Whittell athletic director Larry Reilly said he hired Rippet for two positions – track and cross country – in December.
“It wasn’t done with any malice. My choice was Brian Rippet,” said Reilly, who declined further comment on the record.
As is his policy with head coaches, Reilly allowed Rippet to select his own assistants.
“Anthony’s a track addict,” Rippet said. “I wish we could have had a fit in our program for him. I just opened it up to anybody who wanted to help out, and I found a couple of people. By the time I could get in contact with Anthony he was already committed to South Tahoe.”
Administrators prefer on-campus coaches to run their programs, and Rippet believes that allegiance contributes to some off-campus coaches not being rehired.
“It’s a difficult position to not be a teacher and looking for a job at a school,” Rippet said. “Administrators know their teachers have had specialized training for dealing with youths, not to say that off-campus coaches don’t have these skills. I use all the skills I’ve learned getting a master’s degree in the sports I’m coaching. “
The snub has made Davis reflect on what might have prevented him from being rehired by Whittell.
“I’ve worked with some awesome kids, but either the adults feel I’m pushing their kids too hard or they just don’t like me,” Davis said. “Sometimes when I’m sitting in my upstairs office looking around the walls at my pictures and different awards, and I ask myself, ‘What has really become of all this?’ The only answer I ever come up with is great friendships. “
Davis’ story is one that deserves a happy ending. The fact that Davis is back at STHS volunteering with Brown’s throwers is out of friendship, not a long-term arrangement.
“The only reason I’m at South Tahoe right now is because of Rick,” Davis said. “Rick needed some help with his throwers, and because of the caliber of this team, I told him I’d help him out.”
And don’t be shocked if Davis looks outside the basin sometime soon to continue his coaching career.
“What I’m feeling is there are more people outside this community who respect what I do and the work efforts that I put in,” he said.
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