Correspondent

Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

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Chris Bridges

The Shane Davis era has now officially ended at George Walton Academy.

After only three seasons at the school (one as offensive coordinator and two as head coach), Davis officially resigned recently. No doubt he felt he had no choice.

Davis guided the Bulldogs to a successful, state-playoff season this past fall. A final top 10 ranking for GHSA Class A private and several key returning players for 2021 both pointed to more success on the football field.

For 2020, Davis was named the Coach of the Year by The Walton Tribune. There were so many elements which went into this past season. So many things that went beyond X’s and O’s. GWA was seemingly contending daily with whether or not they would play that Friday or even have practice due to COVID-19.

Through it all, Davis was a steady hand of leadership. You couldn’t have asked for more from a coach.

It all came to a sudden halt, however. News of Davis being suspended eventually leaked out. Things of this nature aren’t going to be kept secret not the days of social media and texting.

The team’s quarterback started a petition to have his coach reinstated. More than a thousand people signed their names to it. In the end, it didn’t matter. Davis is no longer the coach for the program. 

The quarterback who has such promise in the next three seasons will not be playing as a Bulldog. One really can’t blame the young man. I do respect him for his courage, however.

As much as I hated the developments in recent weeks, it really didn’t surprise me. I was shocked at first but after a day or so I began realizing I shouldn’t have been.

Things of this nature happen at private schools like GWA. How do I know? I went to a private school myself, one about an hour away. My teams even played the Bulldogs back in the day when I was a student.

Unfortunately, at my school, numerous quality coaches were also chased off, leaving them with no alternative but to “resign.” Through the years following graduation I even voiced my displeasure with the way some coaches were treated. It didn’t matter. 

It didn’t matter that I was a graduate of the school. It didn’t matter that my brother was also a graduate. It didn’t matter that my mother was a member of the original teaching staff at my alma mater. 

All that matters was the coach in question made the wrong parent mad. Or maybe it was the wrong board member. It could have been a clash of philosophies with the headmaster.

In the end, I was told to take a hike and take my opinion with me.

Shane Davis was not chased off because the program was not successful. He handled the transition from a head coaching legend at GWA with grace and skill. It’s why he was hired to begin with.

Now Davis is gone from GWA. The resignation keeps school officials from having to say too much. Although I must say that a rather odd press release about an investigation into a student-athlete receiving money was about as subtle as a cockroach crawling across the white rug.

The press release was so vague and lacking of information, one has to wonder why it was issued in the first place. It made no reference to the sport involved although the timing of the release made people who read believe it was involving a football player. Was it? Who knows? School officials aren’t talking, rather hiding behind closed doors.

Another football coach will be hired at GWA. He might very well win some games and go to the playoffs. He also may very well be a positive influence on the student-athletes.

One thing he better understand up front, however, is that if the wrong parent, the wrong booster or the wrong administrator doesn’t like you (for whatever the reason) then you are history.

This type of thing happens frequently at private schools. It’s happened at my alma mater. It has happened at GWA. No doubt it will happen again at some point.

The decision to chase off a man of character and a man of faith is something that doesn’t make sense. No rational person will ever believe it does.

The starting quarterback from this past season will likely not be the only returning player competing elsewhere in 2021. It’s a shame but the ones behind this fiasco at GWA have only themselves to blame. Hiding behind a closed door doesn’t change that.

The hiring of Shane Davis was a great day for the school. His “resignation” was a black eye that will not heal for some time.

(1) comment

Willco

Great article. I hope everyone will take the time to read it. GWA and the board are a disgrace and no longer line up with the long standing values that GWA has held in the past. Look at all the good families that have left over the last several years. Looks like they saw the writing on the wall. Many more will continue to do the same What a crying shame.

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