Return to Headlines

10/30/19 Longtime teacher, coach Davis ready to retire from middle school

A driving force at Turrentine
Teacher and coach Ron Davis has been a fixture for almost four decades at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington.

Photos by Bob Sutton / Times-News

Teacher and coach Ron Davis has been a fixture for almost four decades at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington.

Longtime teacher, coach Davis ready to retire from middle school
By Bob Sutton, The Times-News 10/30/19     
Reprinted with permission.  

Ron Davis was just a couple of weeks away from coaching his first football game for Turrentine Middle School when he learned something else about that role.

He needed to drive the bus.

Davis has been behind the wheel of the Burlington school's athletics program pretty much ever since. That was almost 40 years ago.

"I still drive the bus," he said, a role he fills for numerous sports teams.

Davis, who's the athletics director and a physical education teacher, is retiring at week's end.

He began as a 23-year-old, unaware of all that would be involved in this coaching profession.

"I've seen a bunch of principals go through," he said.

On the coaching side, his early years included times when other middle schools in Alamance County had teams directed by men such as Mike Harden and Mike Williams at Graham, Glenn Terrell at Woodlawn Middle School, John Moon at Broadview Middle School and Johnny Slaughter at Western Middle School.

Many of those coaches went on to the high school level.

Davis was content with middle school.

"I told people I could never graduate," he said. "I just kind of stayed where I was at. I was kind of satisfied."

Others were content with that arrangement, too.

Among those is Tommy Cole, a longtime basketball coach at Williams High School. That's the next stop for Turrentine Middle School students.

For Cole, Davis' influence on his basketball teams was instrumental.

"They need to erect a statue over there at Turrentine," Cole said. "He sure made my job a whole lot easier. When those players got here (to Williams), I didn't have to worry about any fundamentals."

So when Cole, whose sons played for Davis, took on dual roles as boys' and girls' coach, Davis came on board to assist.

But he was most identified with Turrentine.

"He ran the best middle school program in this county," said Moon, who went on to be boys' basketball coach and athletics director at Eastern Alamance. "He has done a lot at Turrentine. No telling how many hours he has put in and no telling how many hours he has put in (at Williams)."

In their younger years, Davis and Moon toured the country during the summer, working at various college basketball camps.

George Robinson, the athletics director for the Alamance-Burlington School System, went through Turrentine as a student and later was a state-championship boys' basketball coach at Cummings. He said it's hard to imagine Turrentine without Davis, who he called compassionate and firm.

"I've been blessed to have him in my life as a coach, a mentor and a friend," Robinson said. "He has come into contact with everyone around the county, even outside of Turrentine."

Davis, 62, also spent years coaching the school's football and baseball teams.

"I was a baseball guy," Davis said.

His first season at the school came in baseball. The Trojans won one game — defeating Moon's Broadview team.

He's a Virginia native and 1979 Elon College graduate. He did student teaching at Turrentine, took a job there and never left.

For the past several years, Davis has been the athletics director without coaching duties. Yet that often means washing uniforms, working admission gates and providing transportation.

"It's a lot better driving the bus when you're not coaching," he said.

Davis tends to be among the first teachers to arrive at the school each day, showing up at 6:50 a.m.

In terms of athletics, he said the rewarding part is seeing a young seventh grader who might need guidance and then show a certain maturity when he or she is ready to enter high school.

"I've always liked that age group and you see a lot of growth in that group," he said. "The best part is seeing them as adults now and they have their own kids at Turrentine."

And they come to check on him. When Mike Falk, a retired social studies teacher and coach at Turrentine, and Davis would attend sporting events at Williams, ex-players would seek Davis out.

"The impact that hit me was that so many of his former players coming up to him to say, 'Hey Coach,' " Falk said.

That stemmed from what Falk, who had Davis as the best man in his wedding, figures was Davis' longstanding commitment to many of the youngsters. He was there to drive them home if they didn't have a ride. He found a way to make sure players had basketball shoes "and took his coaching money and bought uniforms," Falk said.

Davis made it a family endeavor. His brother Todd Davis and stepson Jimmy Simpson assisted at times. His wife, Dotti, cooked breakfast when the teams held early practices.

She also took care of game officials at events. "She might throw in there a 'you missed an over-the-back call' too," Ron Davis said.

Davis said the school's sports programs benefited from goodwill within the district.

"The community around here supported athletics," he said. "Whenever we did fundraisers, we could count on people. That has been a really big thing."

Davis said he's proud of what has been built at Turrentine, which has a campus that accommodates all the sports, though football games are played a short distance away at Burlington Memorial Stadium.

Falk said Davis helped foster a positive vibe at the school.

"He wanted the teams to be the best-looking in their uniforms, building that team pride, that school spirit," he said.

Some of it comes full circle at Turrentine. A former Williams basketball standout, Jayla Stewart, is a physical education teacher at the middle school.

Indeed, a new era is about to commence.

"I was trying to talk him out of (retirement)," Robinson said. "He'll still be around. He's Coach Davis."

In many ways, he has influenced three generations of students passing through.

"He was there the whole time," Falk said. "He set the bar high. He taught you how to be a coach. It's more than showing up and being on the sideline. It's mentoring and teaching."

And it's even driving the bus.

Among the duties for Turrentine Middle School’s Ron Davis is working at the gate at Burlington Memorial Stadium.

Among the duties for Turrentine Middle School’s Ron Davis is working at the gate at Burlington Memorial Stadium.