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Cross Country and Track Team Adds Legendary Coach to Staff


Ron Davis has over 30 years of experience coaching at the college and international level.

  • August 30, 2011

Head Coach Ralph Jones and the Cal State East Bay cross country and track and field program announced the hiring of Assistant Coach Ron Davis on Tuesday. A coaching veteran with over 30 years in the business, Davis joins the Pioneers following coaching stints at Ohio State, South Alabama, New Orleans, Maryland Eastern Shore and San Jose State and brings a wealth of experience training athletes for major international and national competitions.

“Coach Davis is well respected in the track and field community, and brings extensive knowledge and experience to our program,” Jones said. “He has a history of success on the track, but has been just as successful with his student-athletes academically.”

In two seasons as the women's distance coach at Ohio State, Davis oversaw one Big 10 Conference Runner of the Week, three NCAA Regional qualifiers and five Academic All-Big 10 student-athletes in cross country. On the track side, he also helped five student-athletes earn Academic All-Big 10 status. During his time with the Buckeyes, Davis was responsible for the cross country team as well as the distance runners on OSU's indoor and outdoor track teams. He also helped oversee team travel, meet planning and academic progress.

Prior to his arrival at Ohio State, Davis spent four seasons in charge of the distance runners at South Alabama, guiding the Jaguars to several milestones during his time there. Under Davis' watch in 2006, Vincent Rono became South Alabama's first individual NCAA Outdoor Track and Field national champion in the 1,500-meters. That same season, the men's outdoor squad set six team records, while the indoor team became the first in Sun Belt Conference history to sweep the 800-meters, mile, 3,000-meters and 5,000-meters at the league championship meet. Davis also oversaw training for Tonny Okello in 2005, when he became the Jaguars' first-ever two-time All-American in cross country. During his time with South Alabama, Davis guided 66 student-athletes to All-Sun Belt honors and 29 to Sun Belt Conference titles.

In his four seasons at New Orleans from 1999-2003, Davis helped lead the women's cross country team to its first Sun Belt Conference title in 2000. He also oversaw the training for the Privateers' first women's indoor track All-American and collected a pair of Cross Country Coach of the Year honors from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, as well as the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year award in 2000. Davis also gained head coaching experience as the interim head coach of the cross country and track programs at University of Maryland Eastern Shore during the 1998-99 season.

Davis got his first taste of coaching in 1968, providing training for Pakistani athletes heading to the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. After the Olympics, Davis returned to San Jose State as a student assistant coach, helping guide the Spartans to the 1969 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field championship.

From 1974-90, Davis trained athletes in 11 different nations helping them to medals at the Olympics, All Africa Games and Commonwealth Games. Davis spent time as a national team coach for Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania during that period. Under Davis' tutelage in 1980, Filbert Bayi won a silver medal in the steeplechase at the Olympic Games in Moscow, marking the first Olympic medal in Tanzania's history.

“A legend in his own right, the student-athletes here at Cal State East Bay and the program are fortunate to have a veteran of Coach Davis' level,” Jones said. “His energy and enthusiasm go hand-in-hand with my coaching style and he is considered to be an upper echelon recruiter. I look forward to working with him as we try to continue the rich tradition that is Cal State East Bay Athletics.”

As a student-athlete at San Jose State, Davis helped lead the Spartans to their first-ever NCAA title in cross country as a team captain in 1962. He then went on to compete at the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he was a finalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Though he did not qualify for the Olympic Team, Davis was selected by the State Department to participate in a six-week goodwill tour of 20 African nations, beginning his strong connection to athletes in Africa and countries with developing track and field programs.

Even before heading to San Jose State, Davis made a name for himself as a high school student-athlete. At the 50th annual Brown University Interscholastic, Davis won the Joe Nutter Memorial Mile in 4:20.8, breaking a 24-year-old record and posting the sixth-fastest U.S. mile at the time.

Davis also boasts extensive sports administration and project development experience. As the founder of the LaGrange Sports Authority in LaGrange, Ga., he created a development program in conjunction with the Atlanta Committee for Olympic Games that supported the training of over 550 athletes from more than 40 countries in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. As a result, 15 athletes trained at the facility qualified for and competed in the games held in Atlanta. Davis also organized the African track and field athletes to compete against the South African National Team in the first-ever African Unity Games, held in 1991 and served as Director of Sports and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Edmonton from 1970-74.

During his far-reaching career, Davis also designed track and field curriculum for the Department of Physical Education for Higher Learning in Afghanistan. He has also worked throughout his career to create opportunities for African athletes to receive higher education and training in the United States.

In recognition of his work, Davis was the recipient of the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame's Track and Field Coaching Achievement Award in 2006. His 1962 men's cross country championship team was also inducted into the San Jose State Spartan Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also named Coach of the Year by Afro Sports Magazine in 1980.

A 1969 graduate of San Jose State, Davis holds a bachelor's degree in social sciences. He also earned a teaching certificate from the University of Alberta, Edmonton.

“I am honored to work with Coach Jones as his assistant as he is a quality person and excellent coach,” Davis said. “I am looking forward to assisting Coach Jones and believe in his philosophy to assist each student-athlete in their quest to realize their fullest potential through a commitment to athletics, academics and personal development. Our goal is to develop the best athletic team possible to compete at the highest levels in conference and on the national level.”

Cal State East Bay's cross country first cross country season under the tutelage of Jones and Davis begins this weekend when the team travels across the Bay for the Notre Dame de Namur Battle of the Bay. The Pioneers will kick off the campaign at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Crystal Springs course in Belmont.

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