Multiple Teams · Davey steps down as varsity basketball coach after more than two decades

March 28, 2017 — by Harshini Ramaswamy

The seniors on the girls’ basketball team weren’t the only ones to participate in their last varsity game late last month: Coach Mike Davey is stepping down after 25 years of leading first the varsity boys’ team and later the varsity girls’ team.

Taking his place as the varsity coach next year will be JV coach Danny Wallace. In turn, Davey plans to coach the girls’ JV team.

“Originally I started coaching because I loved the game and competition in general,” Davey said. “The longer I did it, the more it became about the players and helping create an experience they wouldn’t forget and learn some life lessons along the way.”

After serving as the varsity coach of the boys’ team for 15 years, Davey saw that the girls’ program had had five different coaches five years. With his two daughters approaching high school age, Davey decided he needed “to settle it down for them and give them some continuity.” So he made the transition to coaching the varsity girls in 2008.

During each regular season, Davey spent about 20 hours a week on film and scouting. In addition, he created scouting guides, filled with plays and key players of the opposing team, for the Falcons to study before each game. This was in addition to his full-time duties as a history teacher.

“I don’t think people saw how much he cared about the team and all the extra time he put in,” said senior Rachel Davey, his younger daughter who played for him for three years as a point guard. “Not many people would spend their winter break carting around groups of teenagers through LA or spend hours scouting and writing scout reports.”

During his 25 years of coaching at the school, Davey’s teams have reached CCS numerous times: 12 times with the boys’ varsity team and nine times with the girls’ varsity team.

“It’s tough to say which team I enjoyed coaching more, but the girls are more fun,” Davey said. “The boys sometimes took winning and losing more seriously, but the girls lived the experience so I really liked both aspects.”

Athletic director Tim Lugo praised Davey’s efforts to make sure “female athletes have the same experience that the boys have,” and for helping ensure that “the girls sports get the same recognition on campus as our boys’ teams.”

One of Davey’s favorite memories was leading last year’s varsity team to a win at the Division III CCS championships. The win was especially meaningful to him since the victory took place at Santa Clara University, where his father, Dick Davey, had coached for 30 years, including as head coach from 1992-2007.

But the victories aren’t what Davey has valued most about coaching, and his players say it’s not what they remember about playing basketball, either.

“I can gladly call him my mentor and friend because I know I can come to him whenever I am in need of help or comfort,” said senior Natasha Ramakrishnan, who played for him as guard for two years. “He ends all of his emails with a John Wooden quote that reads, ‘You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you,’ and I believe that every day with him as a coach was perfect.”

Not only has Davey been an integral part of his players’ lives while they’re in high school, but he has stayed in contact with numerous of his former players over the years.

“I think what sets Davey apart from other coaches is his genuine interest in players’ lives after they’ve graduated high school,” said assistant girls’ varsity coach Aron Mitsunaga, who played on Davey’s teams. “He’s definitely a college-caliber coach with a great knowledge of the game, but he’s an even better friend if you make an effort to know him on a more personal level.”

Mitsunaga, who graduated with the class of 2004, played for Davey for three years and has worked alongside Davey for the past five years as an assistant coach.

The team recognized the beloved coach in the senior ceremony before the last home game on Feb. 17, honoring him with a video tribute, a picture frame including Davey’s most memorable moments on the court and a tie, his signature wardrobe for games, which was signed by the entire team.

Davey plans on coaching JV for two or three more years but is not sure what he will do after that. He especially intends to have free time to watch his daughter Rachel play college ball if she makes it onto a team.

As for now, Davey isn’t going to “rule out ever coming back,” but he is committed to stepping back for at least a little while.

Rachel Davey said she especially valued going through her senior year with her dad and knowing it was his last as the varsity coach.

“It made me even more sad after the last game because I understood the sadness he was feeling that he wouldn’t coach at that level again,” she said.