Newton County has seen many of its standout athletes go on to play sports at the college level. Keith Davis was one of those athletes.
Davis found out a month ago that his former coach at Southern Polytechnic State University, Charlie Lumsden had nominated him to be inducted into the SPSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Davis played for SPSU from 1990-1993, where he played third base and hit .360 for his career, after graduating from Newton County High School, where he earned his scholarship to SPSU. who started playing baseball for the Newton Recreation Department Athletics Hall of Fame. Davis played for SPSU from 1990-1993, where he played third base and hit .360 for his career, after graduating from Newton County High School, where he earned his scholarship to SPSU. who started playing baseball for the Newton Recreation Department
“You definitely feel kind of humbled to find out that after 60 years of athletics that you’re chosen as one of the 30 athletes to go into the hall of fame,” Davis said.
SPSU is merging with Kennesaw and they will hold the induction ceremony for a select-few – 34 to be exact – of SPSU’s athletes through its 60-plus year history at halftime of Kennesaw’s spring football game. Davis credits his coaches for his success, especially former Newton baseball coach Charlie Beverlie.
“He was a major influence on me as well. He gave me some good opportunities and he taught me a lot during my tenure at Newton High,” Davis said.
Davis says that Beverly helped make his experience at Newton memorable.
“Great experience,” Davis said. “Again Charlie Beverly, I think he came in my 10th grade year. We had some good talent there. Had several guys to get drafted. I played with great camaraderie. We had an opportunity to go to the quarterfinals of the state and [it was] one of the first times in many years that Newton baseball had made it that far. Great experience. Great exposure. It was one of the main reasons I was able to get the scholarship to go to Southern Tech, because of the exposure and the team that Charlie Beverly built at Newton.”
Before Newton, Davis – who says he’s a homegrown talent – got his first experiences playing baseball through the Newton Recreation Department.
“I grew up in Newton County and I played with older guys in the community. Later I played through the recreation department. I had some good coaching and some good guidance along the way from a lot of the guys there,” Davis added.
Davis said that the experience of playing at the rec-level taught him a lot and that it was very valuable because of the competition.
“Back when I was playing, baseball was very popular among the kids, so I got to compete with some of the better athletes around. Learn the game. Learn how to deal with failure and success. It was very competitive back then. A lot of the better athletes played baseball and we looked forward to those summers being out at City Pond competing against one another,” Davis said.
Two decades later, and the game has changed. Kids don’t play baseball as much anymore. Sports such as football, baseball and even soccer occupy their recreational time. Davis keeps his son, Christian Davis, playing recreation ball because it had such a huge impact upon his life.
“I try to keep him involved even though travel team ball has kind of taken over has kind of taken over the baseball little league. I try to keep him involved with the Newton Rec. Department because it was such a positive experience for me,” Keith Davis said.
Christian Davis, 12, is a standout himself. Christian helped lead the 12-U Newton All-Stars to a 2014 Little League District Championship this summer. Christian blasted a solo shot in the championship game to tie it at 5-5 before his team went on to win 8-5 and play for the state championship in Warner Robins.
When asked what some of the things he learned from playing rec were that he tried to instill in his son Keith Davis said, “One of the key things is learning how to deal with success and failure. And being coachable throughout life. You gonna have to be able to take instruction and to be coachable. Be humble when you’re successful and know how to keep your head up sometimes when things don’t go your way.”
Davis found his way back to Newton County after graduating from SPSU with a degree in industrial engineering where he got together with his wife, Christie, who also went to Newton, but graduated from Florida A&M. Davis also has a daughter, Rhyan, who is a senior at Newton high school and captain of the cheerleading squad.
Keith Davis is currently putting his degree to good use, working at Nisshinbo automotive in Covington. Davis was contacted by MLB teams in high school and college, but when he played semi-pro ball during his sophomore and junior years of college he says the war stories of minor league players made him happy he was able to get a scholarship and a free education.