For 19 years, Coach Joe Wolfe Davis trained Monticello High School Buckaroo wrestlers to be strong competitors and strong men. During that time, the Bucks brought seven State Championship trophies home to Monticello.
It would be impossible to total the number of miles Coach Davis rode on a bus, how many monkey rolls he did in “the room”, or how many rolls of athletic tape he used. It would also be impossible to measure the positive impact he had on the youth he coached.
On Tuesday, September 15, the Utah Amateur Wrestling Association will honor Coach Davis for his time at Monticello High School by inducting him into the Utah Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame Banquet will honor Davis, along with six other inductees. Each 2009 State Championship team also will be recognized at the dinner, including the Bucks, who won the 1A State Title in February.
There will also be presentations made to the 2009 Coach, Assistant Coach, Official, and Volunteer of the Year. All proceeds from the event go to improve the level of wrestling in Utah through the Utah Amateur Wrestling Foundation.
As a youth, Davis attended high school in Vernal, where he made the All State football team, was a two-time state wrestling champion, participated in track, musicals, chorus and a host of other high school activities. Davis said he was “living the dream” in his high school years.
After graduating in 1966, Davis attended the University of Utah, where he was a member of the wrestling squad and the football team, playing three years of varsity ball for the Utes.
Davis majored in Health, PE and Recreation with minors in biology and sociology. He also had a major in Naval Science and participated in the NROTC.
One of the most important things that happened to Joe while attending the U of U was during his sophomore year, when he met a pretty freshman girl named Pat. Two weeks after they met, they were engaged, married within six months and have lived “a life of bliss ever since,” according to Joe.
Davis said he wanted to be a coach and a teacher from the time he was in high school. He coached kids during both his high school and college years. Pat graduated college in three years and started teaching at West High School while Joe finished his degree.
Pat was attending a conference in Logan at Utah State when MHS principal Dale Maughan, who was attending the same conference, walked into the wrong room and sat down right next to Pat in the front of the room.
It must have been fate, since Maughan told Davis he never sat in the front of the room. Pat was talking to a friend about her husband, who was looking for a job, when Maughan began to ask questions, and the rest is history.
The young Davis, fresh out of college, drove to Monticello, interviewed for the job and was hired. Pat worked at the bank and a year later she began teaching at MHS as well.
Over the years, Davis taught many subjects, including health, physiology, PE, Social Studies, History, Utah History, and special-needs English.
Joe was more than a teacher, and probably his biggest impact was made upon the youth he coached at MHS. Coach Davis worked with many Buckaroo teams, including one year of golf, football (where he served as head coach for several years), and many years of track. Davis also started the cross country program at MHS.
At the time, Davis said there were some boys in track that didn’t play football, so he started a boys cross country team. Joe would coach them after football practice, and they would leave after the football games Friday to run at a meet Saturday.
The next year, Davis added a girls cross country program. Davis’ cross country teams had great success, winning eight state championships.
Davis did many things during his time at MHS, but many would say that he is most fondly remembered for his years of coaching the MHS wrestling team.
His first year as head wrestling coach was in 1973, with Kent Adair and Lane Fuller serving as captains. Davis said the team worked hard, wrestled hard and played hard. Davis led the Buckaroo mat men to State Championships in his first six years as head coach. He was honored as Coach of the Year four times, and received a Utah Athletic Director of the Year award.
The fondly-remembered coaching era of D.A.D. was born when Kent Adair joined Coach Davis and Coach John Dowell. Adair started driving the bus for the team and coming to practice to help. The Davis, Adair, Dowell era lasted until 1991, when after 19 years at MHS, the Davis’ left Monticello.
Davis talks fondly about being a coach in Monticello. He said, “It’s always been about kids and about being better than we can be, and making a mistake as a coach or as a kid or as a man and fixing it and trying to do better.”
“We always tried to qualify every kid we could to do anything they could do. We have spent our whole life trying to qualify kids.”
Davis said that kids were always the focus and that no matter what else they were doing; they were always talking about the kids and how to help them.
Davis has many fond memories of his time at MHS. “I love the proms; I love the dances, the practices and the bus trips. I love the halls and having things kind of work out most of the time. I love the people in the area.
“I still sing the Blue Mountain Song (and then he sang a few bars so this interviewer would know he was telling the truth). I love that country. One of the hardest things I ever did was come down a few years ago to interview, getting offered a job and not taking it. It just wasn’t the right time.”
After leaving Monticello, Joe and Pat went to work at Rocky Mountain High School in Byron, WY, where Joe worked as the principal and served as athletic director. Davis worked with the coaches at RMHS and says the experience he gained at Monticello was extremely valuable to him in helping the coaches to build up their programs.
When Davis started at RMHS he says they had no tradition and weren’t doing very well. Prior to his time there, the football team never had a winning record and there were many weak athletic programs.
Within four years, they became state champions in football and basketball, their girls basketball team was making the playoffs, and their wrestling program was doing great.
In 1996, Davis was chosen to receive the prestigious Milken Educators award for Wyoming. The Milken is a national award which honors outstanding educators in each state.
Later, they moved to Alaska but the weather caused health problems for Pat and they moved to Montana, where their daughter and her family live.
The Davis’ went to work at Harlem High School. Joe worked for two years as principal of a school with 300 students. Currently, he is the Associate District Principal, working at both the high school and the elementary school, as well as the district office. In the position, Davis works as a mentor for two new principals and athletic directors. Joe also remains active in athletics.
Joe and Pat are the parents of two children, Jordan and Becky, who were both the valedictorians of their classes at RMHS.
Becky is a University of Wyoming graduate in Elementary Education and has two children.
Jordan graduated from Montana State University in Landscape Design and has three children. The Davis’ still own their home in Wyoming and spend summers and vacations there.
Davis said he is excited to be inducted in to the Utah Wrestling Hall of Fame. “It’s really neat,” said Joe, “but kind of hard to sit back and let people say things about you.”
Davis said he is looking forward to being able to thank a lot of people for a lot of things in one big party. “A lot of parents, a lot of kids, a lot of people worked hard.”
When asked about his time coaching in Monticello Joe said, “It’s one of those things that you thank your Heavenly Father every day for the opportunity to go through.
“You’re thankful for the kids to hug and the miles to run and the monkey rolls to go through. It’s nice when the season starts and when the season ends. The bus rides were great... and it’s good to kind of remember... you get busy in your own world and sometimes you forget some of those things you did when you were younger and it’s nice to revisit that...”
Joe and Pat have worked together educating youth throughout their married life, and Joe credits his wife as key to his success.
He says their time in Monticello is “one of the defining moments in our growth. It was a great place to grow and a great group of people to grow with.”
The Hall of Fame Banquet will be held at Utah Valley University on Tuesday, September 15 begining at 6:30 p.m. You can buy tickets at www.rockymountainwrestling.com.
See the San Juan Record webite at sjrnews.com for more photos.
For even more photos and information on the Monticello High School wrestling program, visit monticellobuckaroowrestling.blogspot.com.