After scraping up enough funds to make ends meet the last three years just so he could serve as a non-paid volunteer college baseball coach, Shane Davis of Poland finally is moving up the coaching ladder and drawing a salary.
Davis, a former catcher for Poland High and Eastern Michigan University, managed to land a full-time job as an assistant baseball coach at NCAA Division I Cleveland State University, which competes in the Horizon League with Youngstown State.
Davis came to CSU from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he served as a volunteer assistant coach this past season, and officially will begin his new duties this month.
The previous two years, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Eastern Michigan where he earned four letters as a catcher from 2002-06.
And last summer, Davis coached the Varsity Shop Training Center Bullets, an elite 18-and-under team based in Birmingham, Mich.
“I had been volunteering for the last three years and not getting paid. I had been waiting tables and doing cleaning jobs just to make ends meet,” said Davis, happy finally to be gainfully employed at what he loves to do at a college that appeals to him.
“It’s in Northeast Ohio and I have some familiarity with [Cleveland State] from being around here, and when I came here on my visit it seemed like an up-and-coming place with construction and plans for growth.”
Davis feels fortunate that CSU hired him because it is not easy to get a college baseball coaching job.
“It’s tough to get into collegiate baseball coaching. They only have a head coach, two assistants and a volunteer for the most part. There are not a whole lot of positions out there,” said Davis, noting that he will be one of two paid assistants under coach Kevin Kocks, who will be entering his fourth season in 2010.
In addition, as a paid assistant, Davis now will have the mandate and time to expand his experience and credentials and grow as a coach.
“There are things that I couldn’t do as a volunteer coach, like recruiting and making phone calls, and I could not do a lot because I had to work to make money. This is the next step for me. Now some of the things that I couldn’t do as a volunteer that I can do as a full-time assistant,” said Davis, who will coach catchers and also serve as the bullpen coach during the game and manage the bullpen .
As a former catcher, he believes that he has a rapport with catchers.
“I think it helps me that the kids know that I have been through it before and that I speak to them with experience. It’s important to relate with them and to empathize with them, but be tough,” said Davis, who also will be part of the CSU recruiting team.
“We try to get a lot of our players from Northeast Ohio,” said Davis, although CSU didn’t have any Youngstown-area players on its roster this past season.
Davis said that CSU and YSU have close ties as Horizon League members.
“In the Horizon League, we play a three-game series. I know I am preparing the 2010 schedule and we play YSU in Cleveland next year. The schedule typically rotates, so we should play in Youngstown in 2011, probably at Eastwood Field,” he said.
A 2002 Poland graduate, Davis was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs as a catcher and a three-year all-conference selection, He was named a Vindicator all-star in 2002 after batting .540 with five home runs.
Davis’ best season at Eastern Michigan came as a junior when he played 30 games and batted .279.
He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from EMU.
Davis also played for the Youngstown Express collegiate baseball team along with former Poland teammates John Hay and Cole Budinsky.
Davis is the son of Jeffrey and Kimberly Davis, and he has two sisters, Brittan and Kellee.
XJohn Kovach covers college athletics for The Vindicator. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.