Tom Davey reached a coaching milestone Monday.
The Janesville resident and Palmyra-Eagle head baseball coach recorded his 400th career high school victory in a 10-3 nonconference win over Williams Bay.
Davey is in his third season at Palmyra-Eagle. He also coached 18 years at Deerfield, two at Madison Holy Name and one season at Janesville Parker.
“The most rewarding thing about reaching 400 is seeing how excited my players are about this,” Davey said. “To be able to share this big milestone with my team is what’s so overwhelming.
“I’m eternally blessed to have been brought up through (Janesville) youth baseball with great coaches like Roy Coyle and Jim Kauss. They paved the way for me. And none of this would be possible without being able to surround myself with talented players, which I’ve been able to do. It’s players that win games, not coaches.”
Davey’s got the Panthers playing their best ball in program history. Palmyra-Eagle has never advanced to the state tournament, but this year’s team is 12-1 overall, including 12-0 and atop the standings in the Trailways South Conference.
“We’ve got the program headed in the direction we want right now,” Davey said. “I love teaching over here, and as long as I still have a passion for coaching and my health is good, I’m going to continue doing this.
“I have high standards, but I think the kids want it that way. They want organization and discipline.”
Davey has also been a fixture in Janesville’s youth program for over 30 years. He’s coached numerous summer tournament teams and has taken three teams to the Babe Ruth World Series. His teams have won 13 state titles and have played in 10 Ohio Valley Regionals.
This summer, Davey will coach Janesville’s talented 13U team.
In more than 30 years of coaching at the youth and high school level, Davey said the game has remained the same between the white lines but has gone in a different direction off the field.
“The biggest change I’ve seen is there’s not as much focus on local development,” Davey said. “Too many kids want to spend their summers playing with the West Texas Oil Drillers or the Portage Plumbers or some other traveling team that, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t teach the game the right way. They want to beat you with the three-run homer instead of teaching fundamentals and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
“Back in the day, kids would get all jacked up if they won a state title playing for Janesville. That’s not the case now, and because of it the level of play is down.”
Davey keeps close tabs on his former players, especially those he coached on Janesville’s summer traveling teams. He knows several factors went into reaching the coveted 400 mark in career wins.
“I think kids really do enjoy playing for me and my coaching staff,” Davey said. “They know they’re going to work hard each and every day, but there’s also nothing better as a coach than to watch your players having fun while working hard. That’s so rewarding.”
As rewarding as career win No. 400.