From the sports editor: Davenport set for coaching challenge with Senator girls’ basketball team

Jahi Davenport

When he was just a basketball player at Dover High, Jahi Davenport had his own ideas about what coaching was like.

Now, after 13 years as a coach himself, he realizes some of those perceptions were true but others, not so much.

“It’s still kind of surreal,” Davenport said with a laugh. “It’s like, ‘Oh wow, this is different.’ You can’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.

“You were like, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ But now I’ve got to do all this paperwork, I’ve got to talk to the paper, I’ve got to deal with the booster club, I’ve got to deal with parents. … It’s just different.”

At the same time, the 36-year-old Davenport feels like he’s ready to take on all those challenges.

Last week, the Capital School District handed the veteran boys’ assistant coach his first varsity head coaching job when it hired him as the Senators’ girls’ basketball coach.

Davenport will become the program’s third different head coach in the last three seasons. Last year’s coach, Taylor Tuck, took a full-time job at the University of Delaware.

Even though this will be his first time coaching in the girls’ program after 13 seasons with the Senator boys, Davenport wants to give his new players some continuity.

“Since I’m already there, I feel like I can give them some level of consistency,” said Davenport, who is a para-educator in the high school. “I’m someone they’re kind of familiar with versus bringing someone from wherever and then they (the players) have to learn someone again.

“At least, they’ve seen some of our (boys’) games so they know how we are as coaches and what we expect of our teams.”

A 1998 Dover grad, Davenport says he’s someone who proudly bleeds blue for his alma mater. Senator athletic director Aaron Harris thought it was important to hire someone who might stay with the program for a while.

“The kids already know him, that was the biggest thing,” said Harris. “They don’t have to learn a new coach for the third time around.”

Of course, Davenport knows he’s got his work cut out for him.

While the Senators have made the DIAA state tournament each of the last three years, they’ve finished under .500 in four of the last five seasons.

Davenport has also been learning what he can about how the girls’ game is played.

“I have some friends who coach girls and I’ve been leaning on them for advice,” he said.

Playing for Ron Allen and working as an assistant coach under both G.R. Myers and current boys’ coach Stephen Wilson, Davenport hopes he’s learned a few things about being a coach. He’s excited about the opportunity.

“After being a coach for 13 years at the freshman level, there comes a time when you want to spread your wings a little bit,” said Davenport.

But Davenport is also looking forward to getting to know the players better. Right now, they mostly each other from passing each other at practice.

“‘I know of you but I don’t know you,’” is the way Davenport describes it.

“With me coming in … I think that bond will be a little bit tighter. Now the boys and the boys’ coaches will know their names and vice versa. It will be a basketball family now, I think.”

Little League history

With the 61st annual Major League baseball state tournament getting started in Millsboro on Saturday night, here’s some numbers from the tourney in Little League’s marquee division.

Newark National has won the most state crowns with nine followed by Brandywine and Seaford’s Nanticoke with seven each. M.O.T. and Newark American own five apiece.

A total of 19 different leagues in Delaware have won state championships. In Kent County, Dover has three titles while Camden-Wyoming and Milford both have one. And of the 60 previous state champions, 23 have been from below the canal.

Odds & ends

• Former Smyrna High running back Leddie Brown, who had earlier verbally committed to West Virginia, recently took a recruiting visit to Florida.

• Seaford High grad Derrik Gibson is in his 10th season in pro baseball. Now playing with the Rockies’ Class AAA team in Albuquerque, the 27-year-old shortstop has played in 928 career games with 821 hits in 3,233 at-bats.

• The University of Delaware athletic department will make its annual appearance at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.

Athletic director Chrissi Rawak will lead a group of 25 coaches and student-athletes to Harrington in the afternoon. The Blue Hens are slated to be at the fair’s new Social Spot (Exhibit Hall) from 5-7 p.m.

• Both the Delaware State and Delaware football teams will find out what their respective league coaches think of them this week.

The Blue Hens will take part in CAA Media Day in Baltimore on Wednesday while the Hornets will be at the MEAC’s Media Day in Norfolk, Va. on Friday. Preseason polls will be announced at both events.

It’s only five weeks until Delaware and DSU square off in their season opener on Aug. 31 in Newark.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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