When he was eight years old, Blake Davis ’23 knew he wanted to follow in his great grandfather’s, great uncles’, grandfather’s and father’s footsteps to play football at Western Oregon University.
Erik Davis ’99 remembers the day Blake received his offer to play at his alma mater.
“I told him although he’s a Davis, he needs to work hard to make a name for himself,” Erik said.
The Davis legacy began with brothers Gale ’50, Don and Darrel “Mouse” Davis ’55; they were followed by Gale’s son Kurt ’72 and Kurt’s son, Erik.
A freshman, Blake is the fourth generation to play for Western Oregon University’s football team.
“It’s unbelievable to be able to carry on my family’s legacy,” Blake said. “I remember when I was younger and watching my dad coach here.”
Kurt said four generations playing football for the same university is quite unique.
“It’s something we are proud of, and it shows our loyalty to the university and the football program,” Kurt said.
WOU Football Coach Arne Ferguson ’92 appreciates the contributions all five men have made to the game of football.
BEGINNING AS FOOTBALL PLAYERS
The late Gale Davis established his family’s role of playing offense for the Wolves. Gale, Don and Kurt were all offensive linemen; Mouse was a quarterback and halfback; Erik was a quarterback; and Blake is a wide receiver. Gale, Kurt and Erik all earned All-American honors.
Mouse played on three straight championship teams from 1952–54 under late Coach Bill McArthur. Mouse also played on the university’s basketball and baseball teams.
MOVING TO COACHING
Having a father who was also a coach was often a challenge for the men in each generation.
“My dad coached me, and I coached my sons Kris and Erik, and Blake was coached by his dad,” Kurt said. “It’s a tough thing to do for both the athlete and the coach.”
Blake said he learned to play with a chip on his shoulder to deal with the people who thought his success was because he was the coach’s son.
“My dad told me to let that fuel me and to focus on the game, not what others said,” Blake said.
Ferguson said Gale was a tremendous teacher and mentor to many people when he coached the offense during McArthur’s era at WOU. Gale also coached the university’s wrestling team.
“Gale was the coach that players knew they could talk to about anything and that he was there for them,” Ferguson said.
When Mouse realized his dream to be a professional athlete would never happen, he drafted a new game plan.
“I was only 4-foot-11 as a freshman in high school. I knew I would be too small to play professionally, so I decided I wanted to be a coach,” he said.
An Oregon icon, Mouse 87, coached high school, college and professional football teams, including Hillsboro High School where he won the state championship and Portland State University where he coached Neil Lomax and June Jones.
Kurt has spent most of his career as a coach, including winning a football state championship at Culver High School. Erik is the football coach at Pendleton High School, and he has coached at WOU.
“For our family, coaching is a way to give back what we have received,” Kurt said. “We believe it’s our responsibility to teach students to be good athletes and great human beings.”
Kurt said the athletic field is the greatest classroom in the world. “The lessons you learn athletically will help you in all phases of life,” he said.
Ferguson finds it interesting how brothers Gale and Mouse took different approaches to offense with Gale’s teams running the ball and Mouse’s teams throwing it. They both made history with their specialty approaches.
“My dad was known for revolutionizing the veer offense that was used for several years under McArthur,” Kurt said.
Mouse is known as the godfather of modern-day run and shoot offense. He’s quick to point out he didn’t invent the offense, explaining that was Tiger Ellison.
Loyalty to one another is what has drawn the Davis family to Monmouth over the years.
“My sister Kelli was profoundly hard of hearing,” Kurt said. “My dad decided to move here from Portland to coach because of the college’s special education program and so my sister could receive the help she needed.”
When Erik learned his grandfather was dying of prostate cancer, he gave up his scholarship at Boise State University where he played for two years and transferred to Western Oregon State College so his grandfather could watch him play.
“Western Oregon has always felt like home,” Erik said.
WOU is where the older Davis men met their wives, beginning with Joan Youngquist marrying Gale Davis, Maureen Shaw to Kurt Davis, and Molly McEwen to Erik Davis.
“To be a coach’s wife is often a thankless job,” Erik said. “I am grateful for the Davis women understanding the time and commitment it takes to coach. My wife is my rock and my pillar. Our family recognizes the importance of supporting one another.”
Mouse enjoys the camaraderie of the game and looks forward to seeing Blake play in the fall.
“OCE was a great place for my brothers and I to go and now Western Oregon is a great place for the next generation,” Mouse said. “I have made good friends, had great experiences and fond memories of my time there.”
What Erik appreciates about his family’s legacy is hearing people tell stories about his grandfather, uncle and dad and how they changed their lives.
“I think Davis, football and Western have become synonymous,” Erik said.