FRANKLIN FURNACE — Dan McDavid dabbled deeply into football, basketball and baseball.
He was a successful coach in two of those three sports at Green, and the other being basketball officiating was arguably — but probably — his best gig.
Unfortunately, though, McDavid’s life and legacy of impacting the lives of student-athletes will now live on through his death.
That’s because McDavid, the head baseball coach at Green and active Ohio High School Athletic Association and Southeast District basketball official, passed away on Monday —at the age of 66 and following a battle with cancer.
He was also an assistant coach on the Portsmouth West High School football staff, coaching the linebackers on defense and running backs on offense.
Since Monday night, numerous tributes have poured in along social media and Internet message boards, as McDavid was widely respected and praised for both his on-the-field and off-the-field work with student-athletes — both as an official and coach.
He is the all-time winningest mentor in Green High School history —in both baseball and football.
“Dan McDavid was a classy individual and a good man who did a lot of good for the lives of young people. He developed teams at Green into good programs and is one of the all-time great Green Bobcats, along with being a fixture in the Southeast Ohio athletic world for 30-plus years. He contributed a lot and he gained a ton of respect,” said former Green head football coach and athletic director Ted Newsome. “My heart broke and I was pretty tore up when I heard the news on Monday. He was so helpful to me and supportive and we worked well together for the six years he was the head baseball coach and I was the athletic director. He was a great man and a great friend whom we all lost.”
Newsome followed McDavid as head football coach, as McDavid —a three-sport standout at Green in football, basketball and baseball — served two stints leading the Bobcats, including guiding them to their only unbeaten regular seasons (10-0) in school history in 1989 and 1990.
They qualified for the state playoffs both times, and lost to eventual back-to-back state champion Newark Catholic in both years.
He also coached football for four years at South Point, and most recently was on Ben Johnson’s staff with West — with already being hired back for next season.
Joe Igaz, a graduating two-way lineman for the Senators, simply said “I don’t think there was anything Coach McDavid wasn’t great at doing”.
“He was basically the brains for the defensive coordinator, he helped with stunts and defensive play-calling. He coached me all four years. He was linebackers and running backs strictly, but he knew what everyone was supposed to do. My teammates loved Coach McDavid,” said Igaz. “He was one of the most popular coaches around this area, but he never failed to put a smile on your face. He would always push you to be the greatest version of you that you could be. His favorite lesson was ‘there are three rules in life: 1. Be cool; 2. Don’t get lost; 3. If you get lost, look cool doing it.’”
Often donning sunglasses and occupying the third-base coach’s box, McDavid made Bobcat baseball a cool thing.
And quickly too.
He took over at Green in 1986, and the Bobcats advanced all the way to their only state tournament appearance in that same season.
In the state semifinals, the Bobcats held a lead but had to endure a five-hour rain delay —and the game’s resumption with different umpires — in ultimately losing to Sidney Lehman Catholic.
This past season, which was canceled due to the coronavirus threat, was supposed to be McDavid’s 11th consecutive of his second stint — as the Bobcats were set to defend their third straight Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship.
The first two were outright with last season’s share with Clay —thanks to Tayte Carver crushing a three-run walk-off home run and the Bobcats winning a memorable 5-2 nine-inning affair against the Panthers for the split.
Green had also captured eight Division IV sectional championships in the past decade.
“Dan was one of the best baseball guys around. He had worked with USA Baseball in the offseason, he was very knowledgeable about the game and passed that on to his players. His temperament allowed him to connect well with kids,” said Newsome. “He had a gift for working with young people in various sports.”
Caden Brammer would have been a senior pitcher for the Bobcats this season, and was one of several individuals to pay tribute to McDavid via Twitter.
“Coach McDavid was the definition of a true coach. A true coach not only helps his players on the diamond, but also off the field. Coach McDavid did just that. He taught us to respect the game, and in doing so, to respect the people around us. Whether it was running on or off the field every game, cleaning the visitors’ dugout after every away game, or just simply having a positive attitude all the time. Coach showed us all how to be better baseball players and people. He taught us to be role models, and we all had the perfect role model to look to ourselves. Him,” said Brammer. “Coach McDavid will be missed dearly, but his legacy will forever live on in the form of his players.”
Melissa Knapp, who came to the Green Local School District in July of 1998, initially met McDavid when he was the district’s treasurer at the time.
Knapp’s husband Dave played for McDavid on that 1986 state tournament team, as Knapp later became Green’s girls basketball head coach while McDavid was coaching both baseball and football.
“Dan was an icon. He was well-liked by his former players, but I respected him most from a coaching aspect because he stuck around and came back to coach teams in both bad times and good times,” she said. “The last few years, the baseball team had players like Tayte Carver, Tanner Kimbler and Bryce Ponn. It would’ve been easy for him to move on once those guys graduated last year. I think highly of coaches who come back to a team and tries to rebuild with them. Dan stuck around and was going to coach again this year. He supported me and was always honest with me. He would give his opinion, but would be honest with it.”
Knapp also knows McDavid from his many seasons as a basketball official, although he never refereed Green games — except for the extremely rare instance of a non-league contest.
“He didn’t officiate any Green games unless they were in a bind and needed an official at the last minute or something. But he was an excellent official. He admitted when he made a bad call and was quick to say sorry when he missed one,” she said. “I had a lot of respect for Dan as an official.”
McDavid worked the past six seasons with Chris Meenach and his son Jason Meenach, as the trio officiated an estimated 80 games per season — both boys and girls.
Chris Meenach also assisted McDavid on the Bobcat baseball staff for the past decade.
New Boston boys basketball coach Adam Cox commented on how McDavid brought a positive and even instructional approach to officiating.
“He was always smiling, seemed to be laid back and in a good mood. Never seemed to be rattled or too upset. He officiated a lot of our summer shootout games and scrimmages, and maybe regular-season games two or three times a season,” said the coach. “A lot of times he would explain to a kid on something they did wrong and why he made the call on them that he did. Almost like coaching them so they don’t make the same mistake again or pick up any bad habits. That really helps a lot of coaches when you think about it. But that just shows you the positive influence Dan instilled in a lot of kids’ lives.”
Indeed, McDavid dabbled in coaching football and baseball and officiating basketball.
He was excellent in all three sports, as his legacy of teaching ways of life now live on in his passing.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved