The SJSU cross country team hopes that past greatness will produce future success with the hiring of SJSU alumnus Ron Davis as the head men’s and women’s cross country coach in May.
“The coaching staff and myself all feel very happy to be here,” Davis said. “I’m very happy to return. It’s a dream come true for me.”
Davis began coaching by providing training for Pakistani athletes, heading to the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.
During his time at SJSU, he was a member of the 1962 team that won the NCAA title, as well as the second place finishing 1961 team, according to SJSU athletics. He seeks to return the program to the elite status he remembers from his college days.
“We talk about it every day. We want to rebuild the legacy,” Davis said. “We want to get that tradition going again. Young people need to be proud of it. The student body has to be proud of it.”
In order to do so, Davis will be relying on his past experiences and successes to lead SJSU into the future, one in which he hopes to see the program be rebuilt in a number of ways.
“The experience I’ve had from all over the world will be very helpful to me in bringing back the legacy, and hopefully getting a new facility,” Davis said. “I’ve been a lot of places where we didn’t even have a track and field facility and we were still successful. We didn’t have the resources we have here. I know we can bring back the legacy, and then getting a new facility on campus would be the ice cream with the cake.”
Davis was not only a part of an SJSU championship as a student-athlete — he also worked as a student-assistant for the 1969 team that won the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship,
according to SJSU athletics.
“It’s really motivating knowing his history,” freshman runner Nick Sherrell said. “It inspires us to work hard, and it makes you want to strive to achieve.”
With a career spanning over four decades, Davis has trained runners all over the world. According to SJSU Athletics, Davis has coached in Canada, Ireland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti
His experience in the college ranks includes two seasons at Ohio State University, two at Maryland Eastern Shore, four at the University of New Orleans, four at the University of South Alabama, and one with Cal State East Bay last season, according to SJSU athletics.
The decision to bring Davis back to SJSU was a perfect fit to Marie Tuite, deputy athletics director, who served as interim athletic director when Davis was hired.
“He’s a great Spartan. He has such an affection for San Jose State,” Tuite said. “It’s really an honor for him to recruit young men and women to this university.”
In a search that took two months and had close to 60 candidates, Davis’ experience all over the world and connection to SJSU were key factors in his hiring.
“We hired Ron for three reasons: First, his affiliation with the school; second, is his breadth of experience — both here and all over the world; third, he’s a very engaging and down to earth soul who just really loves San Jose State,” Tuite said.
Tuite is confident that Davis can restore the program to its past glory and is eager to see what the future holds.
“We want to be more competitive. We want to compete at a high level and we want to continue the high academic standard,” Tuite said. “We are trying to move things forward. It’s an exciting challenge.”
A challenge that Davis is eager to tackle.
“We’ve got to see how we perform,” Davis said. “One thing I want to point out is that the students are adjusting to a new type of training. We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on field training. Let’s put it this way: We will see
The team is eager to prove Davis’ words true.
“We don’t have limits,” Sherrell said. “We can go all the way.”
In its first tournament of the year at the USF Invitational in San Francisco Sept. 1, the women’s squad finished seventh and the men came in ninth, according to SJSU athletics.
The men’s and women’s squads will both have a busy weekend as they compete in the San Francisco State Invitational tomorrow, followed by the Aztec Invitational Saturday in San Diego.
Dennis Biles is a Spartan Daily staff writer. Follow him on Twitter at @Denny149.