Davidson molds Walton into winners
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
June 15, 2014 12:56 AM | 1590 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
05-30-14 -- Mike Davidson, Walton High School, MDJ boys' golf coach of the year. Staff/Jeff Stanton
05-30-14 -- Mike Davidson, Walton High School, MDJ boys' golf coach of the year. Staff/Jeff Stanton
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Talent, chemistry and camaraderie can go a long way and Mike Davidson knows this first hand.

As a Walton assistant football coach and head coach of the Raiders boys’ golf team, Davidson has opportunities where he’s able to see how his players interact on and off the field.

One such opportunity occurred during the 2012 football season when Davidson knew members of his golf team had planned to attend a football game Friday night. While running an errand prior to the start of a game, Davidson noticed a few of his golfers away from school and heading in a different direction.

“I also coach football, and I can remember one Friday afternoon when four of my kids were sophomores that I had to run somewhere right quick and get back to the field for the game that night,” Davidson said.

“Those four guys, and maybe one more, were walking down the sidewalk heading to the golf course at Indian Hills (Golf and Country Club) with their golf clubs to play nine holes before they went to the football game.

“Just that jelling and getting along with each other. You knew they’d be friends forever and they’ll golf together a bunch.”

Moments like those in 2012 were the catalyst for Walton’s 2014 season. The Raiders had one of their best years in recent history and it was primarily due to the talent, chemistry and camaraderie of seniors John Yi, Matt Flynn, Conner Edison and Michael Sheahan.

“There’s no doubt that the team getting along so well helped us,” Davidson said. “They’re good kids and fun to be around.”

After failing to make the state tournament last year, Walton’s senior leaders helped the team rebound in 2014 as the Raiders won the Cobb County Championship for the second straight year, captured the Region 5AAAAAA title and tied for fourth overall at the Class AAAAAA state tournament.

For getting the best out of his golfers following a disappointing season, Walton’s Mike Davidson is the 2014 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Golf Coach of the Year.

“It’s quite an honor because I know what the talent level is around here,” Davidson said about winning the award. “What you accomplish as far as a coach goes, to me, is not as important. It’s really being with the kids and the kids being good. Most coaches are just in it for the kids and try to help them with what they try to do.”

With help from sophomore Andrew Yowell and junior Alex Battle, Walton played well consistently throughout the season, winning five of the seven tournaments it entered.

“I had a real good team this year as evident by what we accomplished,” said Davidson, who credits Indian Hills and the Atlanta Country Club for having good youth programs to help draw good golfers to Walton. “It’s probably one of the best I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot of really good teams at Walton. They were good kids who gelled together. I had six seniors that made the team as freshmen and they all stayed together.

“They hung out together on weekends, and when you do stuff like that and gel together that helps. Plus I had some young kids that just stepped it up because those senior leaders made it important for them. Hopefully, that tradition carries on.”

Davidson is excited that the team finished the season on a high note, but thinks the outcome could have been even better. The Raiders shot 292 to win the Cobb County title and fired 299 to capture the region crown. Walton carded 307 at the state meet.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have,” Davidson said. “Unfortunately, state is only one day and whoever’s on that day wins it. We shot under 300 all year long and 300 ended up winning.

“It was a tough course, but our kids were really disappointed because we knew we had a really good shot. I think they put a little bit too much pressure on themselves. But finishing where they did is a credit to them too.”

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