There once might have been an up-and-coming coach who took over a possibly struggling program and turned it into something that resembles a powerhouse in their state for their respective sport.
A few decades later, that same coach at the same school sees a lot of success, becomes the athletic director and guides said team to a few state titles and a few runs at a perfect season in high school basketball.
All, or at least some, of those things likely happened when Jay Welk took over the Darts’ program 24 seasons ago.
Through all the research I could conjure up, the first season I got a quick glimpse of was back in 2001-2002. I was in my third year in college at the time, and Welk had coached the Darts to a state championship with a win over West Jordan.
He spent the next 12 seasons piling up one winning season after another, 351 of them to be exact, and added two second place finishes at the state tournament along the way.
All of his success came despite a number of coaching changes that took place in the region and the state.
Twenty four years ago I was nine years old. I was playing soccer and baseball in what used to be West Germany when he first roamed the sidelines of Davis High School as its coach. My dream back then was to become a professional wrestler. I traded that dream for another, to be drafted to play professional football or baseball and thinking of nothing else.
Now, some two-and-a-half decades and about 6,000 miles later, I’m wondering how it came to be that I would be in my chair writing about his career in just one short piece.
It simply can’t be done.
Just think about the numerous athletes he’s coached, and the number of people he’s coached that have turned to coaching because of him. The number of people that have come and gone, and then come back because of him.
And the people he recognizes even in passing. I can’t walk by him without hearing a “hey Shain; how’s it going?” even though I was certain he hadn’t seen me try to sneak past him.
It speaks volumes when people seem to do little, say even less, and have it mean more.
Coaches at the high school level that stay for that amount of time are few and far between. The only other name that comes along in the south Davis County area is Larry Wall, who could easily surpass the 30 year mark at Bountiful High School should he choose to.
Other coaches have shown they’re willing to stick around too. Mike Maxwell and Clark Stringfellow at Bountiful; Jeff Emery and Brandon Ripplinger at Viewmont; even Lori Salvo, who played at Davis, then coached at Viewmont, then returned to Davis as a successful coach herself.
Longevity breeds relationships that will last a long time. Welk’s coaching career at Davis may have come to an end, but he will be remembered for doing much more than win basketball games.
All while seemingly doing little, and saying less.