Ryan Davis is not good at baseball, he is however a very gifted track and field athlete. Davis’s track and field career started for that very reason. In seventh grade, he wanted to compete in a spring sport and his two choices were baseball or track and field. Rather than do nothing, he decided to give track and field a try and it proved to be a great decision.
Davis was a three-sport high school athlete coming from earning letters in cross country, track and field and lacrosse at Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville North Carolina, but by the time senior year started and recruitment began, East Carolina University wasn’t on Davis’s radar.
“I actually hadn’t even heard of ECU prior to their interest in me,” Davis said. “ECU reached out to me the fall semester of my senior year. At the time the only other school I had talked with was NC State. After visiting both schools and meeting the coaches though the decision was easy.”
From the moment throwers coach David Price saw Davis perform, he knew there was something special.
“I first saw Ryan at an indoor meet his senior year of high school. I was like, ‘who is this guy!?’” We contacted him immediately after that,” Price said. “He was a multi-sport athlete in high school. Although his high school technique was off, I could tell he had good awareness of his body in space, long levers, and his amortization phase (time from foot touchdown to take off) was very short.”
The mechanics of throwing, whether it is in shot put, discus, javelin, or hammer are all incredibly difficult and involves a lot of precision. One misstep or or miss time could mess up a player’s accuracy and cause them to not get nearly the distance they would have, which is why coaching is so important.
“In high school I didn’t really have a coach so I always wanted to know how much better I could get if I knew more about throwing and had someone to coach me,” Davis said. “All the throws events are very technical and at times it feels like solving a puzzle to get to the most efficient throws and I really love that aspect of it. I guess you could say I’ve learned to love the process as much as the competitions.”
Having real coaching has helped Davis immensely. Being able to really practice and have guidance has really helped him grow as a thrower and as an athlete in general.
“Ryan has improved tremendously over the past several years,” Price said. “Most notably his best hammer throw was 43 meters his freshman year to 66 meters last season. Hopefully he will break the 70 meter barrier this season. He also improved five meters in the indoor weight throw which put him in the top 20 in the country his junior year.”
The growth hasn’t just been physical. Davis and his coaches have noticed an emotional and overall mental growth and maturity as well. Davis isn’t the type of guy who will get in your face to yell at you or lead by being a “Ra-Ra” type of leader. Davis, as his coaches have noticed, prefers to lead by example. He is the type of guy who is respected not just by his peers but by his coaches and his opponents.
“I am, really amazed by his personality,” Price said. “Ryan never gets too excited or too down. He has a kind heart and is compassionate and empathetic towards others. He speaks softly with meaningful words. Ryan also amazes me how he sticks with challenging pursuits.”
These qualities are what has led him to being a leader on the ECU track and field team, something Davis is more than happy to do.
“When I first got to ECU there were some great leaders above me that helped me along the way like Adam Manns and Jalen Peterkin just to name a couple, but I really appreciated everyone on that team as they all helped me grow as a thrower,” Davis said. ”I do feel a responsibility to help. There are a lot of younger people on the team this year especially in the throws and I do best to help out when I can. Coach Price is just one guy teaching 12 people and sometimes it gets a little crowded so I try to help out as much as I can.”
The end goal for this season remains as it has been for Davis every year. To get better and he feels that everyone on the team has what it takes to take that next step this season.
“We have amazing talent on the team and they have all been working so hard this offseason. I know that if everyone can showcase their abilities then the sky's the limit for this team,” Davis said. “I think a key part of that is just have fun with it so I would (say) that is my expectation of the team this season.”
With these thoughts going into the new year and with Davis leading the way, Pirate fans should expect to see great things from the track and field team in 2020.