Zach Thomann, Assistant Sports Editor
Michele Davis sits in her office, which looks more like a second home. Her room is filled with inviting fixtures, like a clock with basketballs on it, pictures of all her most prominent athletes and a three-person couch. The intricacies of her office aren’t just for her enjoyment, but her athletes as well.
“A lot of my girls like to hang out and do homework here,” Davis said.
When Davis is off the court, she makes her girls feel like they are at home, but on the court; she is very tough on them.
“We are a family,” Davis said. “But that doesn’t stop me from getting the most out of my athletes,” Davis said.
Davis has spent the majority of her life connected to the game of basketball as a player and then a coach.
She has been rooted to Utica College since 1997, where she was hired as an assistant coach for women’s basketball, but her connection to the city has been there her whole life.
Davis grew up in south Utica, N.Y and played basketball for Notre Dame High school before committing to Herkimer County Community College. She was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame at Notre Dame Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Davis continued her successful career in college where she was the two-time Region III player of the year and a two-time All American while at HCCC. The Utica Pioneers website acknowledges Davis as the Generals all-time leading scorer for men and women’s basketball and the 1995 female athlete of the year at HCCC.
Once her two years at community college were over, Davis furthered her education at Division II SUNY Albany where Mari Warner coached her.
“I was an English major with no clue on what to do with my career,” Davis said. “Warner helped me realize that coaching was my calling.”
Once Davis graduated, she moved back to her hometown where she called Utica College on a continuous basis to get her foot in the door. After three years as an assistant, Davis took over the head coaching position in 2000.
It did not take long for Davis to become a successful coach. She was named coach of the year for the Empire 8 conference in 2003, and Division III Region II coach of the year in 2005.
Aside from her coaching career, Davis found herself accepting the position as a Title IX investigator at Utica College. Her job involves investigating acts of sexual gender based misconduct on campus.
“Title IX goes beyond athletics,” Davis said. “We are very careful to treat all students and sports teams equally.”
Within the 19 years at Utica, Davis has continued to improve the way the school operates. One instance of improvement was the changing of game programs for each sports team at Utica. It came to Davis’ attention that the hockey team had creative brochures with pictures for every home game, while the basketball program had paper pamphlets with just names and numbers. After a discussion with Athletic Director David Fontaine, every team had their own brochure.
Aside from investigating Title IX misconduct, Davis has had a historic impact on the women’s basketball program leading her team to its first ever conference title in 2008. Davis also led Utica to its first NCAA Division III tournament wins in 2010, after winning the conference for the second time.
Although winning two conference titles are her greatest coaching achievements, Davis’ will never forget the importance of beating St. John Fisher for the first time in 2004.
“I remember sitting by myself crying after the game,” Davis said.
The athletes on Davis’ wall represent those memories when her emotions took over. Among those athletes include Jessica Berry, who is the all time leader in points with 2,111 career points.
When Davis looks at Berry’s picture, she remembers the 2010 conference championship game against #1 ranked Ithaca College.
“She only had four points that game,” Davis said. “But she won the game for us on a buzzer beater.”
Without even looking up the game, Davis remembered the final score.
“38 to 37,” Davis said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we won.”
Along with the most points in school history, Berry also recorded 1,065 rebounds and 139 blocked shots which are both second most on the all time list.
Davis continues to influence athletes like senior Calypso Carty, who went from a bench player as a freshman, to an every game starter last season.
“Coach is like a book of knowledge,” Carty said. “She changed my shot and developed a post game that I didn’t think I would have.”