Class of 2016
As a player, coach or fan, April Davis has always been a part of the Athens Bible School volleyball program. And as a player, coach and fan — she has been a part of the volleyball teams’ state championships.
“I didn’t do any of that alone, so I guess hundreds of people should share in this honor,” said Davis. “I’ve always had great assistants and these girls have started early. Our third-graders are seeing our seniors play. And the fan support makes so much of
a difference. We’ve had so much support through the years.”
As a player, Davis helped Athens Bible win its first volleyball state title in 1989. She returned to her alma mater several years later as a coach where her teams reached the state finals in 2000, 2007 and 2010. In 2009 — 20 years after winning the 1A state title as a player — Davis repeated that feat by leading her team to another state championship.
And winning a state championship as a player and coach at the same school is not something you see every day in Alabama high school athletics.
“It’s pretty rare,” said Athens Bible School athletic director Bill Murrell. “Her enthusiasm and her knowledge have brought the program to another level and that’s been maintained after all these years.”
Murrell should know. He’s been been a part of the Athens Bible athletic program for more than 40 years. He recalled when Davis was hired to lead the volleyball program.
“She went to college and came back as a volunteer assistant,” remembers Murrell. “So when the previous coach left, April was the obvious choice to take her place.”
Davis soon turned ABS into a mainstay at the state volleyball tournament. Her teams advanced to the 1A state finals three times in four years from 2007-10. Davis’ teams reached the state tournament, which featured the final eight teams in the state playoffs, 11 times overall in her 15 seasons at the helm.
“There were definitely high standards and you knew what you represented,” said former player Mallory Jackson. “We always knew what the past year was like, and we wanted to do better the next year. It gave us something to play for.”
Jackson was part of the team that played in three state finals, winning it in 2009. She recalled that magical season when ABS
won its second state volleyball championship.
“The year we won it marked the 20th year when they won it, so we honored that 20th anniversary of that team,” remembered
Jackson. “So it was cool to go on and win it for her.”
Kayla Taylor, who was a member of Davis’ first team in 1998, recalled advancing to the state tournament that season.
“She always made us feel like we were the best team there at state, no matter what we were ranked,” said former player Kayla
Taylor. “When she would get mad at us, she would sit at the end of the bench. That’s how we knew we did something wrong.”
According to Taylor, Davis would always go above and beyond to make sure her players received the recognition they deserved. She helped countless players earn college scholarships, including Taylor.
“She helped me get a tryout at Florida College,” said Taylor, who would go on to play at Freed-Hardeman University. “When I got back from the visit that night and saw her at the basketball game, we made eye contact across the court. Before I could talk to her, her water broke and she went into labor, so we never got to have that conversation.”
Although Davis has stepped down from coaching, she remains close to the program and was able to watch one of her former players repeat what she had accomplished a few years earlier. In 2014, Athens Bible won its third state volleyball championship.
That team was coached by one of Davis’ former players, Elizabeth Winland, who was also part of the 2009 state title team. Winland is still the volleyball coach and April Davis is and will continue to support Athens Bible’s volleyball team.