After 42 years of coaching, Bill Davis covets 10 final four cross-country state finishes, a first place finish in 2005, ample accomplishments, and has plenty of stories to tell.
He wasn’t particularly an athlete in high school, with the exception of going for baseball his senior year — he was a relief pitcher. He also tried for basketball, but decided he was “too short.”
He began his coaching career in 1975 as an assistant coach in football and track at Doniphan High School. In 1978, he began coaching track at Kelly High School, where he also started a cross-country program in 1995. Davis came to Notre Dame in 2001 to coach cross-country, and eventually restarted the track program after it was dropped in the early 1980’s.
One of the highlights of his career at Notre Dame included building the track.
“When I came in, I knew I wanted to get that going,” said Davis. “Tony Buehrle was instrumental in that project.”
In cross-country, Davis said it took a few years to get going.
“We took kids to state a few times at the beginning, but we never could score enough to make final four,” said Davis.
In 2003, things took a turn for the better: cross-country boys received 2nd in state. The following year, they received fourth place. But in 2005, the boys took home a state championship. Over the next four years the boys Cross Country team placed in the final four in state. In 2010, cross-country girls finished 2nd in state. Davis said this is where they hit a lull, until 2014 when boys received 2nd at state, and in 2016, the girls received 2nd once again.
Davis can recall many great moments over his time at Notre Dame, and the majority of them took place during summer running for cross-country. One story stands out to him.
One early morning in June, students were running various distances on the course in front of school. Davis said one was a freshman boy, and it was his first time on the course. He instructed him to run a simple 10 minutes, with no regard to speed.
Several minutes in, the boy bore his guts to the course.
Davis said he took a good look at the stuff, and used it as an opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom.
“‘Mmm…biscuits and gravy,’” said Davis.
He said the student looked at him, and asked, “How can you tell?”
“I told him, ‘Well, look at it. It’s not even digested!’” said Davis. “I advised him against eating a big breakfast before coming out to early summer running.”
When Davis was asked if he favored one sport over the other, he said he would have to pick cross-country.
“Everybody’s doing the same distance, and the sport created more of a family atmosphere,” said Davis. “It will always be my first love.”
Bill Davis retired early this year with a coaching & teaching career at Notre Dame spanning a little over 17 years. He recently celebrated his 43rd wedding anniversary with Tanya Amrhein Davis ’74. He is the father of two Notre Dame Regional High School alumni Hannah Davis ‘03 & Logan Davis ’09 and currently resides in Scott City.