By Leo Kamin
East High School’s athletics program enters what will likely be one of its most unprecedented and difficult years in the school’s nearly 150 year history under new leadership. Dackri Davis, East’s new athletics director, will be tasked with navigating the myriad challenges posed to high school sports by COVID-19.
Luckily for East athletes and fans, she is as qualified as they come. Dr. Davis was a four sport athlete at her High School in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was born and raised. She received a four-year scholarship to play both softball and basketball at Piedmont College in Georgia, and later received two masters degrees before receiving her PHD from Georgia State (hence the title: Dr. Davis). Dr. Davis has coached high school tennis, softball, and basketball and has taught and served in administrative roles at a number of high schools in both Georgia and Colorado.
Dr. Davis is not a newcomer to the East community, though. She served as an assistant principal at East from 2010 to 2012, and she said she was “delighted” with the opportunity to return. “It’s the students and the people,” she said, when asked what drew her back to East.
One of her key focuses this year is, as you would expect, helping ensure the safety of East’s student-athletes in the midst of the pandemic. She recognizes that “it’s hard in an athletic space to stay six feet apart.” With this in mind, the governing body for Colorado high school sports has approved only four sports, all of which are played outdoors and at some distance: boys tennis, boys golf, softball and cross country. Experts universally agree that being outdoors reduces the risk of contracting the virus.
Dr. Davis said that most decisions which sports will be permitted and what protocols will be taken are made far above her head. Her job, though, is to ensure that East’s athletes and coaches are taking the necessary precautions, an issue that came up almost immediately in her tenure, when an athlete tested positive, forcing their team into quarantine. While Dr. Davis would not reveal which team had the positive case, a member of the field hockey team has confirmed that one of their teammates tested positive. It does not appear that there was any further spread of the virus on the team.
Beyond ensuring student safety, Dr. Davis is looking to provide some sense of normalcy to East athletes and fans in this very abnormal year. For example, she said that, although “the days of our student section being packed are gone for a little while,” she is looking into systems that would allow fans to stream basketball games live online.
Despite the many challenges, Dr. Davis remains hopeful. She is cautiously optimistic that, fairly soon, we will have developed some kinds of interventions, like potentially a vaccine, that will allow for the return of indoor sports.