Coach Al Davis left a legacy at Riverdale that will be remembered and celebrated for years to come. Beginning his Riverdale career in 1953 as a PE teacher and coach, and continuing as an advisor, dorm master, mentor to incoming faculty, alumni contact, and later, a school historian and archivist, Coach Davis’ many roles at Riverdale led him to be integral to the community as he exemplified many of the core values Riverdale hopes to instill in its students. Mr. Kent Kildahl, Upper School English and ILS teacher, was a close friend of Coach Davis. When Coach Davis first arrived at Riverdale, Hackett Hall was home to 40-50 male students, literally meaning that, for him, “work was home,” Mr. Kildahl explained. “Sometimes institutions, [...] schools, colleges, corporations, churches, synagogues, movements, are the lengthened shadows of individuals. And, if that’s true sometimes, it might be true, that some of the best things about Riverdale are kind of the shadow of the example set by Al Davis [along with others] who, from the time the school was founded, really gave their lives to the school,”. Riverdale was one of the most important things to him in his life, and those who paid attention could tell, “Well, here’s a guy who just did everything with a kind of intensity and sincerity and a brutal honesty,” Mr. Kildahl said.
Coach Davis was able to make whoever he was speaking to feel as though they were the only ones in the room; he gave them his full attention. He exemplified values of teamwork, effort in and out of the classroom, and humor; “He could laugh at himself, and all kinds of other things that I think are important,”. After his initial retirement in 1987, Coach Davis became the school historian. In the basement of Vinik one can find rooms filled with archived materials that Coach Davis organized and collected through alumni, which was described by Mr. Kildahl as a natural job for him. Coach Davis fostered many personal relationships with Riverdale community members, and “no one ever wanted to not do a favor for Coach Davis if he asked, he was that kind of person”.
Several awards are given out each year in honor of Al Davis, including the Al Davis teaching award and the Al Davis scholar athlete awards. The Al Davis Teaching Award was established by the class of 1964 and is given to one faculty member each academic year who demonstrates persistence, spirit, and care for the community. The Al Davis Scholar Athlete Award is given to one male and one female student each academic year to celebrate leadership and excellence on and off the sports field. Riverdale community members will continue striving to live by Al Davis’ example, these awards serving as a reminder of what that means.
Coach Davis’ legacy will be carried on through the students at Riverdale who continue to learn from his legacy and appreciate all of the work he did here throughout his life.