DURANT — It may have not been time to push the panic button, but with volleyball tryouts less than three weeks away, the alarm bells were most certainly ringing at Durant High School.
Justeen Patton, selected in January to replace Dawn Hough as coach, took a job in Texas late last month. That left the Cougars, a state finalist last season, without a leader as the season rapidly approached.
What would Durant do? How could they fill that void with a competent coach capable of carrying on last year's success? With just three seniors graduating from last year's club, would it turn out to be a lame-duck season for the returners?
Enter — or more precisely — re-enter Jeff Davis.
Davis returns to Durant as the head coach, following a string of successful seasons as a Cougar assistant. Davis, an assistant since Durant opened, helped guided the Cougars to state titles in 1999, 2001 and 2002. "It's nice to be back," Davis said.
In many ways, Davis' return is bringing things full circle.
Davis got into coaching in the first place thanks to his stepdaughter Christen Garcia, a former Durant star during the state title years.
He began working with her through club ball, then continued on with Garcia as an assistant at Durant under Terri Ohme.
"I didn't play collegiately or anything like that, but it was a way for my daughter and me to spend time together," Davis said. "Then the more I was involved, the more I enjoyed the sport and the teaching side of it."
So when Garcia graduated, Davis decided a way to improve his coaching skills was to learn from arguably the best in the county — and the state — Berkeley Prep's Randy Dagostino.
"Yeah, it was an honor to coach with him," Davis said. "He's regarded as the best coach in the state and he is a good friend, so going to practice and things like that was like working with your buddy."
Davis' success was immediate, helping the Buccaneers win a state title in 2003 and twice become the state runnerup.
He said his time at Berkeley Prep not only beefed up his resume but gave him a greater insight to the game.
"Randy has an amazing ability to point out things in the game and see things in the game others don't see," Davis said. "He could point out a player's body language and know what was going on with them."
And while Davis was honing his coaching skills, Garcia was wrapping up her college career at Georgia Southern University.
Now that Davis has taken his first head coaching job, might it be possible Garcia would join her father's staff?
"Maybe," Davis said. "She's moved back here now and getting established in her real career, but she'll probably be out to help and then who knows from there."
Full circle, indeed.