You shuffle into French Field, cheer on your school and head home.
More than likely, you never notice or think about Tom Davis’ role in the event you watched.
That’s good, actually.
Silent success is routine for Davis.
The facilities manager at French Field won’t get much recognition from fans for his efforts, but he’s the one who makes sure the show runs smoothly when the stands fill up.
Davis, 73, started working at French Field in 2000, and it was supposed to last one season. He’s now 15 years in and still going strong with the labor of love.
He sets up the field each night for the next day’s event. Sometimes that means long nights following an evening soccer game, moving the goals and corner flags and setting up for a marathon track meet the next day.
“Sometimes during those long Saturday track meets, I would think, ‘Maybe I’ll quit’ at the end of that day,” Davis said, but with a chuckle.
The truth is you would struggle to find someone more committed to boosting high school athletics than Davis.
He graduated from the former Laporte High School. He spent time coaching and teaching in Nebraska and South Dakota before returning to Fort Collins. He then served as a teacher and coach for football, boys and girls basketball and track at Poudre High School for 26 years before taking over at French Field.
“Coaching is kind of an addiction, and that has been a great way to kind of withdraw from the coaching,” Davis said. “I’m still involved and yet my time commitment isn’t anything close to what it would be if I was coaching.”
Davis still has a special pull for the Poudre after working at the school so long, but he swells with pride at how Fort Collins shines across the state.
“When there’s a big game, I still get the same butterflies, the same nerves that I got when I was coaching,” Davis said. “Not quite to that extent, but several times when we’ve had the crosstown games where we’ve had the big crowds and a lot riding on that game, you get some of those same emotions.”
He’s seen girls sports in Fort Collins grow from its infancy to boasting some of the top athletes in the state.
He’s seen facilities improve, like when Poudre School District added all-weather turf to French Field, expanding its possibilities. Now, he says, is an exciting time for the city as PSD looks to build a new athletics complex in the near future.
So next time you’re at an event at French Field, take a look at the details. The scoreboard isn’t working just by accident. The equipment doesn’t simply magically show up where it needs to be. Things don’t just happen to work just because we hope they will.
Davis is there every night, silently making sure the biggest event in a high school kid’s young life runs without a hitch.
“People will say ‘Gosh, this is a nice smooth meet.’ That’s always a good thing to hear because you know how many things could go wrong,” Davis said. “I sleep a lot better after the seasons are over, I’ll tell you that.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.