AIR FORCE ACADEMY — For 28 years, Gary Davies patrolled the sideline at Broomfield, coached in 329 games — won 232 of them.
But the number that will have the most impact on his storied career will never be read in a record book.
On Saturday afternoon at Falcon Stadium — two years removed from his final season as the Eagles coach — Davies watched proudly from the sideline as a majority of his former staff and players were in charge of leading the Erie Tigers in the Class 3A state title game against Palmer Ridge.
“Coach Davies is a hugely influential part of my life and with this being a important part of my life right now, this team, I brought him in to breath some energy into the team and I think it happened,” said Tigers coach Chad Cooper, whose former coach delivered a speech on Friday night before the Tigers took in an Air Force hockey game.
Cooper — who played for, roomed with his son and even lived in Davies’ house — has 10 other members of his staff that have ties to Broomfield.
Davies, who is now retired and settled down in Fort Morgan, travelled with the team to Colorado Springs on Friday night and delivered a speech to an eager group of Tigers.
“I wanted them to bask in the entire experience and sometimes there are things you don’t notice or think about when you are a 16-17 year old kid, so I wanted to throw those out and reflect on that in their room last night before they went to sleep,” said Davies, who coached only one time in a state title game — losing 7-3 to ThunderRidge in 2001.
“The kids were very respectful and thanked me afterwards. You know you coach a long time, and what speeches do or what they don’t do … It wasn’t a rah-rah thing last night, because I knew the coaches and the leaders on the football team, they would be ready to play.”
Davies will never toot his own horn, nor has he ever … always giving the credit to everyone else. That’s why any talk of his legacy or coaching tree simply don’t mean that much to him.
“There is no credit to me for what is going on here. I think anybody that coaches as long as I did have guys on their staff that want to be coaches; and I think as a coach, it is your job to give them opportunities and try to teach them,” Davies said. “Honestly, I felt like the last two or three years I was coaching, I was coaching coaches even a lot more than I had before. There are a lot of talented guys here and that is what they wanted to do.”
Erie defensive coordinator Eric Mickens, who played at Boulder and was on Dave Ramsey’s Panthers staff, started out as a junior varsity coach with Broomfield and worked his way up to coordinator.
Having his former boss around during the Tigers run and even on championship weekend was both beneficial for him as well as the Tigers players.
“The kids know about people who are winners and when you talk to them, high schoolers can pretty much tell when somebody is authentic,” Mickens said. “And that is what coach Davies is, truly authentic in everything he says.”
Davies, who said the hardest place to watch a game was still from the sidelines, was able to beam with pride even after the final whistle blew on the a Tigers 46-21 loss.
That was his coaching tree, branching out and forming its own identity.
“I’m proud of the Erie kids. I told them last night, that I don’t remember a team that really embodied a motto or a theme as well as they did. ‘Never ring the bell, never ever ring the bell’ with all their comebacks,” he said. “The coaches, they’ve matured and grown in two years, from where the program was to where it is now. They’ve got a ways to go, and they know that. But I am very proud of them and excited for them.”
Said Cooper: “He’s why I am here right now. I hope I have the same effect on that group someday, when 16 years down the road they call me in for a favor and I can do something for them.”