John Davis

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2007

Showing off their fastpitch state championship rings are (left to right) John Davis, Casi Brooks and head coach Ashleigh Hicks. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Davis bids SP farewell

By Myra Bean

After spending about 16 years as part of the South Panola Tiger football program, John “J.D.” Davis has decided to follow another calling.

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As of Monday, Davis, 28, will take up the reigns as the full time student minister of the First Baptist Church in Taylorsville, home of Jason Campbell, quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

Taylorsville is also where South Panola head baseball coach Patrick Robey hails.

“We made a deal with our parents. My parents are going to take care of him and his parents are going to take me. They have always said I am the son they have always wanted. My parents have always said Patrick is the son they have always wanted,” Davis said laughing.

Davis wore many hats while on the staff at South Panola as well as his position as youth leader at Shady Grove Baptist Church.

One of his other duties was assistant coach of the fastpitch softball team.

“It’ a great opportunity for me,” he said. “The door just came open. It was all God. It has been a long process, a stressful process because I have tried to keep it quiet because this school means a whole lot to me.

“This is the only place I have known as home and to leave everything I have is not an easy step,” Davis added.

Sunday is his last official day at Shady Grove. He began his ministry at Shady Grove six years to the date October 1, 2001.

Davis is the son of Bill and Vera Davis and brother of Panolian staff writer Billy Davis.

While at South Panola, he was instrumental in establishing the flourishing Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) organization. He worked along with Robey, former assistant coach Michael Fair and community businessman Randy Boren to get the organization up and going at South Panola.

Now the South Panola FCA is the standard by which other programs are set.

One thing Davis said he will always remember is the community support the school has.

“One of my fondest memories of the state fastpitch championship game is to look up and see the fence just lined with people in the community from young to old,” he reminisced. “Just to know they support these girls. Most of them have no clue about fastpitch but they came to support these girls.

“It’s all about the kids whether on the athletic field or the classroom,” Davis continued. “Sometimes we lose focus and forget it really is about the kids.”

Davis played on the South Panola High School football team from 1994-97. Before that he was on the junior high and ninth grade teams.

When he was in college, he would come back and work with then head coach Ed Stanley.

“When graduated from Ole Miss, they had a job for me,” he said.

The Taylorsville High School boasts 17 state championships in various sports. They are in the process of getting a Huddle House.

“In Taylorsville they know a little bit about football,” he said. “Someone asked if I was going to help coach. Right now I am not.”

During his interview process, Davis said they asked him how he felt about coming to a small town. He described Taylorsville as a small Batesville.

“I told them I remember when Batesville got a McDonald’s,” he laughed. “They are getting a Huddle House and that is big time. They have  a Subway, a gas station and now a Huddle House and that’s about it.”

Davis feels his teaching career helps him in his ministry.

“Teaching and ministry go hand in hand. It is just on a different scale,” he said.

He will be responsible for dealing with the 50 youth of the church and also the smaller children. He will plan activities and make sure they are carried out and have Wednesday night youth ministry.

“I’m sad but excited about it,” Davis said. “There is no other place that has the credibility this place has as far as state championships. We have the top fastpitch program in the state, top football program in the state, Southeast, if not the country.

“To leave the guys and the girls is difficult,” Davis continued. “I know the programs will still succeed.”

In the interview a couple of weeks ago, Davis got a little emotional when he spoke about his hour long meeting with defensive coordinator Willis Wright.

“I have the utmost respect for him,” Davis said. “He has been nothing but good, good, good to me.

“Dr. (Gearl) Loden and Dr. (Keith) Shaffer have been great through this whole process, keeping things quiet and giving me the liberty to get out of my contract and follow this part of my life,” Davis added.