DUBLIN — Gaye Davis walked into West Bladen High two weeks ago like it was any other day. On her mind was hardly more than preparing for her health and physical education classes, along with the upcoming spring break.
Everything changed when she got inside the school.
“People started congratulating me,” Davis said. “I really didn’t know what was going on at first.”
What was going on was the fact that Davis had won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Spirit of Sport Award, given annually to a coach, athletics director, trainer or student-athlete who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit and impact the core mission of education-based athletics. She will be presented the award on Thursday in Chapel Hill.
The award is sponsored by Natoinal Federation of State High School Associations.
Davis, the Lady Knights’ varsity volleyball coach for the past three seasons, was nominated back in November by her assistant coach, Laura Hall. But Davis said she isn’t the sole winner of the award.
“It’s really a community award, as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “I’m just going to pick it up.”
Davis said the award was based on the Red Knights effort last fall that raised about $3,800 for the Ronald McDonald House in memory of Jude Mills, the 17-month-old child of West Bladen ag teacher Dana Mills. Jude passed away in August after a battle with a chromosome disorder.
The effort to raise money included T-shirt sales, selling baked goods, cake auctions, raffles and asking for donations during volleyball matches at the school.
“I really didn’t do any of the work,” Davis said. “It was mostly done by the students, staff and others. So the award may have my name on it, but it’s really for everyone here.”
Davis has been coaching at West Bladen for eight years — three with varsity soccer, three with jayvee basketball and the past three with varsity volleyball.
She also played basketball in high school and earned a scholarship to play collegiately at Atlantic Christian, now Barton College, but an injury caused her to be red-shirted her freshman year and she never did get back to the court.
Throughout her playing days, Davis said she learned a lot from her coaches and parents.
“They all taught me about discipline, sportsmanship and self-respect,” she said. “And I try to pass that along to my players.”
Davis has had the pleasure of coaching her daughter, Mallory, through her high-school volleyball career and has helped guide her to a college scholarship at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke starting in the fall. Mallory was also the Mountaire Farms-Civitas Media Scholar-Athlete Award winner in October 2013.