On Monday night March 12, the Paris High School Lady Eagles volleyball team were presented with their state championship rings in front of a capacity crowd gathered to hear Razorback Volleyball coach Jason Watson admonish the athletes before head coach K Wesley Davis took the podium to tell stories of each player as he presented them with their ring.
For an outstanding class of seniors, it was their third such ring. For Davis, this was not his first in Paris, but as we would find out a day later, the run is over. Davis resigned his position as volleyball coach on Tuesday, March 13 to take a position with the Greenbrier School District.
For Davis, his run of state titles began in 1988, when as a fourth grader, he was on the state champion Odyssey of the Mind team from Paris. He later played his games in blue and white before moving away for college and a family. In 2007, Davis returned home to coach volleyball, a sport he had no connection to and had to learn quickly. He just wanted to be an Eagle and to be a coach.
His determination paid off, as he instilled a determination and expectation of excellence in the program. The first year, they went 6-14-3, a far cry from what most know Lady Eagle volleyball to be. In his 10 years, Davis is 214-105 with 6 district titles and 4 conference titles.
At times, they were playing the toughest competition in the state in conference play, but made no excuses and refused to settle. Eventually, he was able to add long-time Paris coach Jerry Fulmer to his staff. Fulmer’s daughter had been on that first team, and he volunteered, somewhat unintentionally, to keep the books on the games. He was learning the game alongside Davis. When asked, Fulmer could not say enough about working with Davis, telling the story of Davis requesting athletics be placed on the schedule of a student who had moved in from Georgia and only wanted to be on the dance team. He saw the potential, though the young lady was initially very hesitant. Four years later she accepted a full scholarship to play volleyball in college. It was that belief in students and dedication to player development that set Davis apart.
After a state semifinal followed by a state quarterfinal loss in consecutive years, Davis and the Lady Eagles made it to the championship game in Hot Springs. That is where he truly experienced the agony of defeat, coming up just short of a title three consecutive years. Most would have caved under the stress, but instead, the program went back. In fact, they went back the next three years and won it all. Davis leaves the program on the heels of three championships with a resume that includes an All-Star Game MVP, three State Tournament MVPs, and multiple appearances on the All-Star Coaching Staff.
Davis will be heading to Greenbrier, a rapidly growing school where he and his family will have great opportunities in the years to come. In Paris, the hiring process will officially begin, though the job has not been posted as of the deadline for print. Paris does have two valuable candidates on campus in Jerry Fulmer and Jordan Devine, but will likely draw attention from across the region, especially as Oklahoma coaches look for opportunities cross state lines.
Davis said the decision was not an easy one, and it was obvious as those in attendance heard the emotion in his voice at the banquet. For perspective, the Lady Eagles are 90-13 over the last three championship seasons, with only one loss coming against a 3A opponent, all while the 30 student-athletes currently have a cumulative 3.89 grade point average this year. Davis leaves the Lady Eagles as the most decorated coach in Paris history and a community that has embraced Lady Eagles Volleyball. As his new chapter begins, there is no doubt there are more Lady Eagles ready to continue the tradition of excellence that unknowingly started with a fourth-grade science project.