The Surry County Sports Hall of Fame is filled with players and coaches who thrived at the high school and college levels.
The newest inductee, however, made his claim to fame at Dobson Elementary School.
Petie Davis spent 25 years as a teacher, then stepped up to assistant principal. He also coached basketball for 24 seasons, baseball for 19 and football for three.
For those 43 seasons of basketball and baseball, he amassed about 400 wins with teams that only scheduled 12 games a season.
“Petie is truly a legend in Dobson,” said Gary York, who nominated Davis. “If an elementary coach and educator is ever considered for the Hall of Fame, then Donald Gray ‘Petie’ Davis Sr. is your man. A remarkable man in so many ways.”
Petie only had one losing season in basketball, noted York, “and never had a losing season in 19 years as a baseball coach.”
Davis had numerous undefeated seasons and coached Hall of Famer Benny Callahan and future Hall members Jeff Edmonds and Jeff Davis, said York.
“Petie’s legacy is the tremendous positive impact he had on everyone — students, parents, peer — during his 36 years as a teacher coach, athletic director and assistant principal,” York said.
In addition to his school duties, Davis was director of the Dobson recreational programs for several summers and even served as a lifeguard.
Somehow he even found time to teach adult basic education classes at Surry Community College over the summer.
“There are countless people in the Surry County school district that still remember Petie’s coaching, teaching and administrative successes,” said York. “The town of Dobson honored him with a special Petie Davis Day on June 28, 2003. He was given a plaque by the mayor.
“This was a summary of his integrity, fairness and high moral values. He enhanced lives of people immensely. Many people still covet his advice, wisdom and vision.”
“I just tried to be a good role model,” said Petie. “I always tried to always act and dress accordingly.”
There is not a lot of glory with coaching grade school teams, he said. Newspapers follow the high school teams, but he was okay with quietly doing his job away from the spotlight.
“I tried to tell the kids that athletics is short-lived,” he said. Not many boys and girls grow up to play college or pro sports.
“Athletics is a preliminary to life’s real problems,” Petie said. “There are wins, losses, setbacks, brick walls in the road. It’s how a person responds to these trials that really matters.”
Petie grew up on a farm in the Copeland community near Level Cross. Just two miles from the school, he often walked to and from the school gym for extra hoops practice.
Like many kids, he played whatever sport was in season, but said he always had a deep love of both basketball and baseball.
Petie played on the Copeland school team in the ninth and 10th grades under Lonnie Bledsoe, whom he called a legendary coach.
“Coach Bledsoe instilled in me a passion for competitive athletics, and probably coaching as well,” he said.
For baseball, Petie learned under another great coach, Wayne Nance.
Between his sophomore and junior years, a new high school opened in Dobson. He completed his last two years at the new Surry Central.
Bledsoe was there for Petie’s junior year, then he left. A new coach named Bill Mueller stepped in.
Petie admits he was just an average starting player. As a point guard on the basketball team, he was proud of his defense and ability to get his teammates involved in the offense.
After graduating in 1963, Petie enrolled at Western Carolina.
“That’s where I was introduced to big-time college ball,” he said. The university had great coaches and players, and coaching began to sound more and more like what he wanted to do.
Fresh out of college in 1967, he was hired by Dobson Principal G.R. Motsinger. The elementary school’s basketball coach was leaving for North Rowan, so Motsinger wanted Petie to start teaching and coaching right away.
The school was for grades K-8 for his whole coaching career before Central Middle School took the 6-8 grades.
He coached until moving up to assistant principal and stayed with Dobson when the upper grades moved to the new school.
He said he really enjoyed when his former players would come back to visit. He loved asking them about their jobs, lives and children. He said the players would always ask about his wife Janice and Donald Jr.
Coaching is a tough business, and no one can succeed without the support of his family, he said. His wife and son would always come to the games to show their support.
“I am sincerely honored and deeply humbled that I was nominated and elected,” he said. “There are a lot of deserving people out there yet.”
On Saturday, Petie will turn 68 and be inducted into the Hall at a ceremony in the SCC gym at 4 p.m.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.