RIP to an Icon

Ron Davies: Forever A Championship Legacy

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I was sad but not surprised when I got the message from Ken Zigner that Coach Ron Davies had passed. I see Zig quite a bit around town and he had let me know that Coach Davies was in ill health. And, of course, those updates would come from Zig because even after 40 years in the work-world, he is still a down-lineman. He was then as he is now…intense, intelligent and ferociously loyal to Coach Ron Davies. And I know he loved and respected the man and Zig and tons of other people will miss this iconic figure in Kenosha History. Some people and some accomplishments simply overshadow the sport or forum that gave them attention. On paper, Coach Ron Davies was a teacher and a football coach. In reality, he was as important of a personality that this city as ever known.

Here is how you know Ron Davies was special. I was in high school when Tremper won it all in ’79 and ’80. Zig, Marc Hujik, Craig Kadamian, Randy Grundy…all my age…class of ’81. The point is, there were really no huge indicators that this group of Tremper kids would go on to greatness…and I mean that with all due respect. Hujik played on the CYC Broncos when I was a Packer…the Kadamian brothers played for St. Thomas in to CYO and the Spartans in some KYF league. Granted, Grundy was a transplant from down south and was a game-changing linebacker, but everything about the group said “another round of decent football players” when we were 7th and 8th grade age. When I got to St. Joe’s, our freshman team played against the 9th graders still in Junior High School at Washington, McKinley, Lance, Lincoln and Bullen. And if memory serves, our St Joe’s team won that conference that year. So by all accounts, this group was good…not great. Then they played for Ron Davies.

I have no clue what happened over on the south side of town but that “good, not great” team went right past great to end up legendary in local history. The young men in that Tremper lockerroom have many, many clues as to what happened to set them on this course with destiny. And the majority of those clues center around the Head Coach and his ability to get his players to believe in the strength of team. To understand commitment. To realize that the term “buy-in” wasn’t just a poker term. Ron Davies set the standard for what is still a very proud organization and if you were to examine the Trojan program today, you’d still see a multitude of practices instituted by Ron Davies. The program does not only have his fingerprints on it, it has his handprints, his footprints and his level of expectation all still extremely evident and amazingly relevant. That ’79 and ’80 Tremper team was just different. Guys I had known most of my life were now part of something bigger. I did not go to school there and was not a football lifer so being on the outside, it was extremely evident that something had changed in the sports psyche of that group of young athletes.

I loved seeing that group do well and win it all back-to-back, in dominating form. If I can’t win, I’m always happy when someone I know wins. And for all of our local rivalries, I believe everyone in KTown that came through high school at that time was genuinely happy for those guys because it was obvious how committed to it they all were. It was their identity…why wouldn’t it be? And 10, 20, 30, even 40 years later, to a man, they all still remained incredibly loyal to Coach Davies. I am a former and current high school coach and I can tell you first hand the amount of effort and energy it takes just to get to the competition of Game 1 of a season. I do not have any frame of reference to tell you what it takes to run the table two years in a row in Division 1 high school football. That takes a special human being…coaching other special human beings. And it all lined up perfectly for that group of individuals that defined the term “team” for an entire generation. And just for good measure, Coach Davies won it all again in ’91. I don’t know for sure how many coaches have won 3 Division 1 State Football titles, but I bet the list ain’t very long.

Ron Davies is in about every Hall of Fame there is for a man with his resume to be in. And there is no doubt he earned every accolade he was ever given. I got an opportunity to converse more with Coach Davies in the early 90’s because by that time I was doing local radio and had gotten to know first hand the “Howie Mitchell, Rick Jiminez, Rudy Ruffolo” era. I found Coach Davies to be humble, direct, polished and always focused on continuous improvement. I most certainly was not his peer, but it was cool being able to speak with the man when I was a bit more of an adult. Coach Davies was not a person that was ever going to tell you too much. He’d tell you just enough. It would sound simple and basic but you knew there was nothing simple or basic about anything in his program. I can only write what I know form what I saw and what I experienced and what I saw and experienced was greatness…plain and simple. There will likely never be another high school football coach to touch the lives of that many players while racking up that kind of hardware…it is almost impossible in today’s landscape. Ron Davies was the man!

I send out my best wishes to lifelong friends like Ziggy and Marc and to everyone associated with Coach Davies. Fortunately he’s got men like you to keep his memory alive and well and available to help the next generation of football players and high school students. One could search far and wide across all of KTown and never find someone more universally respected by his players, his peers, his friends and his family. I enjoyed every second of every conversation I had with him professionally and personally. RIP to a true legend…Head Coach Ron Davies…your place in history is secure and the lives you touched and continue to influence are a testament to your legacy…….Thank You!!!

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