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The City Journals

Jaguar football coach Stephanie Davis forging new trails

Sep 12, 2018 10:28PM ● By Greg James

Stephanie Davis is the sophomore defensive coordinator and coaches the defensive backs on the Jaguars varsity football team. (Shelley Oliverson/WJ football)

By Greg James |  [email protected]

Nationally football players are facing difficult domestic violence issues and learning lessons about how to treat women. In a unique way the Jaguars are teaching their players how to handle these tough life lessons.

As the only female high school assistant football coach in the state of Utah, Stephanie Davis is forging trails in new places.

“My situation is unique. I was originally hired as the head track coach and then later asked to be the strength and conditioning coach,” Davis said. “I had experience with many of these boys. They were very respectful to me. They listened to me.”

She admits that there are times she was unsure of what was going on. She had never played football and at times was unfamiliar with some of the terminology.

“Anybody can learn the game if they put in the effort. I tried to stick to the fundamentals,” Davis said. “I sat in meetings and wrote down words I did not understand. Then I’d go home and google them to help me learn. I’d say ‘what in the world are they talking about?’ It was like they were speaking Russian, but I would remember the terms and phrases and come back the next day able to build each day on what I had learned.” 

She is the varsity defensive backs coach and the sophomore team’s defensive coordinator. She calls the defense.

“Our team is a family,” Davis said. “The coaches have been very professional. I sit down and help draw up plays and organize our defense. I am still learning. I feel very blessed.” 

At times referees have not understood that she is a coach and their opponents did not shake hands with her because they thought she was a trainer. Generally she has been accepted, especially with her own team.

She is not the only female on the Jaguar team. On the sophomore team is Laura Goetz. She has been part of the Utah Girls Tackle Football Leagueand is now part of the Jaguar program.

“I told Laura she can do this. In the weight room I told her she can play this game, but she would need to focus on technique more than anyone else. Just like what I have done,” Davis said.

She has a bond with most of the players that other coaches don’t achieve.

“I am not sure if it is a motherly side, but I think I have a softer side that some of the boys come and tell me things that can’t tell their coach. I pick up on some vibes too that others do not see. Then I pass those things on to the rest of the staff and help us all improve,” Davis said.

Jaguar head coach Mike Meifu said he believes that she is the only female high school football coach in the state of Utah. She was his track coach when he was in high school. 

“Having her with us for three years is great,” Meifu said. “She is a great coach. She knows what she is talking about. She is also like a mother to some of these kids. She has a personal level that I do not always understand. She has had disrespect from others but our team has learned that it does not matter if the coach is tall or short, black or white, male or female. It is about respect.”

The NFL has had troubles with domestic violence cases in the past few years. The Jaguars have placed an emphasis on finding ways to learn together about these types of situations.

“I think our entire staff talks about teaching the kids about real life situations,” Davis said. “There have been times that Coach Meifu has said we have a woman on staff and that is not an acceptable behavior; not just with her around, but ever. It does not just come from me, it comes from everyone. I’d tell someone else trying to get to where I am to celebrate the successes and do what you do best then learn the rest.”

She credits Meifu for giving her the opportunity. 

“I give credit to Mike (Meifu) for hiring a very diverse, talented and competitive staff. Every coach has their own individual strengths that we bring to the game and the program. We all respect and rely on each other to build this team, I am here coaching football because Meifu, our staff and the athletes believed in me.”