COMMENTARY: Ladybirds’ coach getting most out of his team

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COMMENTARY: Ladybirds’ coach getting most out of his team

Photo by Travis David | North Central head coach Joe Davidson shouts out instructions to his team during a play in the sectional. Davidson helped lead the Ladybirds to their ninth sectional championship in program history.
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Teaching discipline and accountability has become a lost art in today’s world of athletics. Many coaches fear for the loss of their job if they try to push the envelope of enforcing this kind of culture. 


Not Joey Davidson.


The North Central girls basketball coach has never shied from holding his players accountable on the court. The boisterous coach is often the subject of opposing fans ridiculing his coaching style and antics on the sidelines throughout a game. 


That’s only one side of Davidson.


One of the many perks of this job is being able to catch a glimpse of players and coaches that outsiders don’t get to witness. It may sound like I am setting this up to tell you Coach Davidson is a big ole teddy bear with his team behind closed doors. 




He is still the same ole fierce and fiery competitor during practices as you see on the sidelines working the officials and holding his players to a higher standard during games. 


And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.


But what I will tell you is Coach Davidson has an understanding and compassionate side towards his players. At the end of the day, he cares and loves each one of the Ladybird players as if they were all his daughters.


That was on full display Saturday night after North Central won its ninth sectional championship in school history. Before lining up to shake hands with Shakamak players and coaches, Davidson had his team huddle up around him for a message.


“I am so proud of all of you.”


Davidson uttered this phrase three or four times to make sure they all heard and understood his message.


That message was just as important as any kind of in-game instructions during a timeout. It wasn’t important because it allowed outsiders to see or hear this side of him. To be honest, there’s probably only a handful of people inside Glover Gymnasium that night to hear him say that. But the only ones who mattered were the ones who were all huddled around him with their arms draped around one another.


It’s important to them, because it reinforced that their coach was not only proud of their accomplishment, but he also believed in their abilities.


Even if that belief is relayed in a different way than most coaches. 


“These are all good FCA, good christian kids,” the coach said. “I was just happy to see that all their hard work paid off and that (sectional championship) is something that will stay with them for a lifetime.”


You would be hard pressed to find a more competitive coach, boys or girls, in the entire state. Winning is in his blood and he knows the game.


Which brings me to this next point.


He’s also not too proud to admit when someone else may have a better point. Such was the case in last weekend’s sectional championship.


Davidson thought he had the perfect game plan against the Lakers to avenge a 5-point loss in the regular season. But it just so happened that someone else had a better game plan.


His oldest daughter, Averi.


The eldest Davidson child, who graduated as the Ladybirds’ all-time leading scorer among other school records, has been on staff the last couple of years serving as an assistant coach and junior varsity coach. Before Saturday night, the last time the Ladybirds won a sectional title was with Averi in uniform. And she assisted in the title Saturday night.


“I wanted to play a man defense against them,” Coach Davidson said. “But Averi stepped in and said that we needed to stay in our 12 defense. I listened to her and it won us the game.”


The Ladybirds’ defense held the Lakers to just 26 points in the win — the lowest point total of the season for the Lakers outside of against 2A No. 1 ranked North Knox (25).


Davidson’s praise for his daughter did not stop with the decision in the game.


“She does such a great job,” he said. “The kids and myself are lucky she cares so much and decided to stay around and help out. She will be a way better coach than me someday if that is the route she decides to take. She knows the X’s and O’s but she also knows the kids.”


It shouldn’t be a surprise if Averi follows in her father’s footsteps and becomes a successful coach, because she has had a pretty damn good role model to learn from over the years.


Even if outsiders don’t agree with the coaching style they see on game nights.


Coach Davidson — 133 wins and three sectional championships — isn’t for everyone, but he is perfect for North Central and North Central has been a perfect place for him.


Just ask the Ladybird and their parents.



TRAVIS DAVID is the publisher of PressBox812Sports and can be reached via email at: [email protected]. Follow along on Twitter (X) at: @Tdavid_21. 


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