Springdale AD Davis retiring after 21 years leading Dynamos athletics

Saturday, November 28, 2020 | 7:15 PM

The Springdale football team took on California to open the 1999 football season.

It was the first game for any Dynamos team or individual that fall, and it also marked the first game in the tenure of athletic director Ray Davis.

It was a special time for the 1977 Springdale graduate who played football, basketball and baseball at the school and later coached football and basketball in the district in the 1980s.

“That was very exciting for me to have the chance to give back to a school that gave so much to me when I was a student and an athlete and also a young coach,” said Davis, who celebrated his 62nd birthday last Tuesday.

“I had the interaction with the students and athletes as a teacher and a coach at a number of places, but (athletic administration) was something I always had an interest in.”

Davis, who has seen it all in athletics over the past two decades as Springdale’s athletic director, retires from his post Monday. It is a moment nearly a year in the making.

Davis said he had mixed feelings about his decision.

“There was happiness about being able to go into retirement, but then I thought about how much I would miss the kids, the coaches, the other ADs and other people I’ve worked so closely with. I knew that was going to be a part of it,” he said.

Davis recalled the exhilarating wins, the heartbreaking losses and many moments in between during the last 22 years with Springdale athletics.

He was at Heinz Field in 2003 when the Dynamos, under the direction of legendary coach Chuck Wagner, upended Sto-Rox 30-13 to capture the program’s fourth WPIAL championship and first since 1973.

“It’s hard to describe how happy and proud I was that day,” Davis said.

That feeling returned in 2007 when the Springdale baseball team topped California for the WPIAL Class A title and in 2009 when the girls soccer team won WPIAL Class AA gold with a 2-1 win over South Park.

Several track and field individuals and relays won WPIAL and PIAA gold during Davis’ tenure. Kevin Kondrit brought home WPIAL swimming titles in 2016 and ‘17.

The decision to retire became official over the summer. The past several months, he said, were a challenge as he helped guide Dynamos athletics through the ever-changing covid landscape. Davis said everyone came together to make it as smooth of a process as possible.

Davis said his final season overseeing the Springdale athletic program was enjoyable, highlighted by the boys soccer team’s section title and run to the WPIAL Class A semifinals, the girls soccer team advancing to the WPIAL quarterfinals and the football team’s matchups in the Eastern Conference, including a toe-to-toe battle with PIAA finalist Jeannette, and a trip to the WPIAL playoffs after a two-year hiatus.

“It was a nice way to go out with the success we had with the fall sports,” he said. “Dealing with the covid (process and protocols) was tough, but we never had any of our games canceled after the original schedules were revised.”

Pete Simpson, who also serves as an assistant principal in the Allegheny Valley School District, will take over.

“We’ve been working together and have been going over a number of things,” Davis said. “Things have been going smooth. I know he’s going to do a great job. He’s really excited about the future of athletics at Springdale.”

Springdale football coach Seth Napierkowski, an assistant with the Dynamos two years before being hired as head coach in 2017, said he enjoyed working with Davis.

“Like a lot of athletic directors, he really cares about the kids and it showed throughout all the years he was in that position,” Napierkowski said. “He was so helpful in making sure we had what we needed. For me, I appreciated that he was willing to give me a chance in 2017. I was only 27 at the time. I had played a lot of football, but I had only been coaching for a year or two up to that point. He mentioned that he wanted to see some continuity from coach (Dave) Leasure to the next staff. That was something he and I both felt was important, especially for the kids.”

With Springdale and Riverview holding traditional rivalries in several sports throughout the year, Davis worked heavily with Riverview athletic director Mario Rometo.

Rometo said it was a working relationship built on respect.

“Ray is a great guy,” Rometo said. “He took me under his wing when I was first hired at Riverview and showed me the ropes as far as athletic administration. He’s been a great mentor. He’s done the same for a number of others in the past. There were times we talked multiple times a week, almost every day, because we would have a lot going on between the two schools. I’ve learned a lot from him. You can tell how much he is respected among a lot of the other athletic directors within the WPIAL. He will be missed.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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