Photo submitted by Sydney Stephens

Cameron Bruce, The Circuit

Three years ago, Phil Davis was just another Benedictine College student trying to find balance between morning swims, Spanish tests and afternoon workouts.

After transferring to Benedictine from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Davis competed on the Raven cross country team for four years.

During that time, he spent countless hours with the team running speed workouts on the track, lifting weights and scouring the streets of Atchison on recovery runs. Now, as a BC alumnus, that same team calls him coach.

“I transferred here as a sophomore, I transferred out of what I thought was my dream school and came to a school that I didn’t know a lot about,” Davis said. “Then the cross country team instantly became my family here on campus and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since.”

For the first two years of his Benedictine College experience, Davis got to familiarize himself and train with some of the athletes that he would eventually go on to coach.

“Getting the opportunity to coach at the school seemed like the next logical step after all the time I was on the team and I felt like I could continue to fit into the role just due to the fact that I was one of the senior team leaders when I was competing,” Davis said.

However, it proved to be an unusual task trying to get some of the athletes who were once his teammates and running partners to understand the dynamics of his transition.

“The funniest thing was definitely coaching the guys I used to run with and there’s not a lot that you can do to prepare for it,” Davis said. “They don’t act differently or anything, it’s just a slightly different relationship transitioning from a friend role to more of an older brother type of role.”

This year, the men’s and women’s cross country teams have seen some success, and they may be among the fastest programs Benedictine has had yet. The teams began the season by winning their first two meets, including the first ever cross country meet hosted right here in Atchison. Since then, they have faced some stiffer competition both within the conference and outside of it.

Now, ready to embrace whatever the rest of the season brings, and with the conference championship race only a few weeks away, Davis feels like he is fortunate to be in a position to help his team succeed this fall and for years to come.

“I’m pretty lucky to get to coach where I ran,” Davis said with a smile.