There’s a good chance that if someone has been involved in Commerce High School sports in any way in the last 30 years, they are familiar with Jeff Davidson.
The 52-year old has been living in Commerce for much of his life, and his involvement with athletics in the Commerce Independent School District spans from his days as a student to now almost 30 years as a coach and educator.
“There have been so many success stories and so many great kids to come out of this school district,” Davidson said. “It has been a blessing to coach here for as long as I have.”
Davidson and his family moved around a lot when he was a child, making multiple moves while he was in grade school. But the Davidson family finally settled in Commerce, and young Jeff found his home.
The oldest of three children, Davidson came from a family with an established background in athletics. His father played sports in high school and his mother was a cheerleader, so he had an early exposure to sports in his life. Growing up, Davidson played basketball, baseball and football, and played on into high school, where he graduated in 1985.
From there, he continued in athletics, playing baseball at Paris Junior College, but an injury sidelined his playing aspirations from then on out. Davidson then transferred to East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce), and graduated in 1990 with a degree in all-level physical education. He says he knew he wanted to be a coach, but thought his career would begin elsewhere.
“I put out applications all over the place,” Davidson said. “I thought, ‘Well I’ve lived in Commerce almost my whole life, I’m going to go somewhere else.’”
But a move never came and his applications were not followed up on, until he was then hired right at home, as coach and earth science teacher at Commerce Middle School in 1991. Davidson was one of just two coaches at the school who had to perform duties across multiple sports.
“I had some great mentors while I was starting out,” Davidson said “I took a lot of pride in the program we had back then.”
His hard work was rewarded, as he was hired on as a coach at the high school in 1996. Davidson’s start was at the right time, as CHS athletics was steadily on the rise, including the football team, which was becoming something of a Division 3A powerhouse at the time.
Davidson had a hand in coaching the football, baseball and basketball teams at CHS, and was on the staff for the school’s first State Championship in football when the Tigers went on a memorable 16-0 run to capture the title. Davidson remembers those days fondly.
“The amount of support we got from the community was incredible,” Davidson recalled. “They believed in us, that’s what made it work.”
He adds that winning the championship was “The experience of a lifetime” for him.
With the new millennium came a new building for CHS, and then another State Football Title in 2001. Davidson continued to coach, and even served as the Head Coach of the boys’ basketball team for a time. But later on, he says he felt like he needed to spend more time with his three daughters Laney, Riley and Landry. So he got into coaching softball and was the Head Coach of the Lady Tigers for a time.
Davidson says that it may have been a mixed bag getting to coach his children.
“It was probably a challenge for them having their dad as a coach since I have such high expectations,” Davidson said. “But it was surely a blessing for me as a father to see them grow not just as athletes but as people too.”
Davidson joked that he only had daughters, but “I guess you could say the players I have coached were all my boys too.”
Now in 2018, he serves as the district’s Athletic Director for the first time since taking over the role in November of 2016, so he isn’t currently coaching. His eldest daughter Laney is a graduate of the University of Texas, Riley is currently a student at Texas A&M University-Commerce and a member of the volleyball team, and Landry is a junior at Commerce High School and also participates in volleyball and track and field.
Looking back, Davidson says that it has been a rewarding experience to teach and coach in Commerce.
“We have good coaches on staff right now in the district, and I’m just doing my best to make sure everyone has what they need to succeed,” Davidson said. “I have been fortunate to not only coach my children but so many other great kids as well.”