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Vicki Davis retires after almost half a century of involvement in Hastings athletics

Vicki Davis is pictured at the scorer's table this week in maybe her last volleyball match ever at Hastings High School. STAR GAZETTE PHOTO BY ALEC HAMILTON

Vicki Davis is iconic in the history of Hastings athletics and after 45 years of varying levels of involvement, she is stepping away from her last role of working the scoring table for Raiders’ volleyball.

Davis has been a trailblazer for women’s athletics in Hastings and started her remarkable journey at a young age. Growing up in St. Peter, Minnesota, Davis attributes her love for sports to having three older brothers.

“When I went to school, there was no athletics for girls,” Davis said. “I followed my brothers around and my first love was baseball. I was the first girl to play Little League baseball in Minnesota, which was in 1959.”

Davis attended the University of Northern Colorado for one year, where she played volleyball, basketball, softball and tennis. She finished her education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she played volleyball and basketball. After graduation, she moved to Detroit for work but then moved to Hastings in 1972 to teach physical education, health and become one of two women in the state to have their driver's education certification, as well as help start Hastings’ girls’ sports program. Thus began a 45-year career of service to Hastings as an educator, coach and so many other roles.

When Davis was hired at HHS, she became the girls’ tennis and track and field coach, but it was through her physical education classes that she became involved in volleyball.

“I was teaching physical education, so I was introducing more sports to the girls, and they just loved volleyball,” Davis said. “So I would go out and teach tennis after school and when the sun went down and it was too dark, we went inside and I coached the girls who wanted to learn more about volleyball.”

Back then, for a new sport to be added there had to be proven interest in it for a certain length of time before it became a school sport. Davis reckoned that she had upwards of 70 girls interested and involved when they first started, and in 1973 it became an official sport. She was the head volleyball coach for 13 years before she stepped aside as she became busier with her assistant principal role. However, she continued to be involved in the Hastings volleyball program, refereeing ninth-grade volleyball and working at the scorer’s table up to this year.

In her time at Hastings, Davis has been the head coach for Raider girls’ tennis, basketball, volleyball and track and field teams. As unbelievably successful as she was helping to usher in girls’ athletics in Hastings, Davis said it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Getting gym time was difficult,” Davis said. “There would be limited time we could use the gym, and we had to set up the nets and get the gym ready for competitions. The janitors were a little reluctant to help us because their contracts stated boys athletics and now they had to do it for the girls, so they were a little reluctant. I think once they saw how hard the girls were working and how much it meant to the girls to have sports, they were much more willing. I remember we were going to have a contest one day and we were going to go get the gym all set up, and we walked in and the janitors had set the gym up for us. That was always kind of special, we had kind of finally made our way.”

In those beginning years, Davis had to find her own officials and workers. She had no assistant coaches but was able to convince friends and family to help her, though they were not paid.

“The girls now, they can’t imagine not having sports,” Davis said. “But those girls in the beginning years, I give them a lot of credit. They worked hard and made a positive impression on everybody, on and off the floor.”

Davis’ athletic footprint goes far beyond Hastings as well. She has refereed collegiate volleyball up to the highest levels and helps critique and evaluate Division I basketball officials, as well as supervise officials at the Division II and III levels for the collegiate conferences in Minnesota.

Through all the years she has been part of Hastings athletics, Davis said she considers the teams she’s coached and people she’s worked with as family. She would take her players to the collegiate matches she refereed, hire former players who went on to play in college or were unable to due to injury as assistant coaches and help them get experience under their belts. Some of her former players have gone on to play collegiately, to coach and even work with her in Hastings.

Over the 45 years Davis has been in the Hastings volleyball program, she has seen the game grow immensely and for the better.

“I think the biggest change is now, it’s a great game and back then there were so many rules,” Davis explained. “The rules have really changed and it’s helped make volleyball more exciting and more competitive. Way back when you couldn’t even come near the net or touch the net at all. They had so many restrictions that it almost hindered good athletes, and now the rules are such that the athletes can play and smash the heck out of that ball and not worry about a toe stepping over a line.”

As she takes her final steps away from her many roles, her last being scorer for the volleyball team, Davis says she hopes kids continue to play as many sports as they can and stay involved with athletics after they are done playing.

“I feel sad we don’t have kids playing three sports anymore, a lot of them are becoming specialized,” Davis finished. “That worries me — I think we need a more well-rounded kid. I think it’s better for their muscles. If you play the same thing and do the same thing all the time you’re not using some sets of muscles. We also need to get some good, quality officials. Officiating is a great part-time job — I payed my way through college doing it. When you go out to look for a job and an employer sees you were official, that means you’re organized, you know the rules, you can handle stress and the criticism and keep calm under pressure.”

Davis was honored prior to the Dig Pink volleyball match against Simley during homecoming for her many years of service to Hastings volleyball and Hastings athletics as a whole.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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