Trick or treat? How about both for Jim Davis this past fall.
The New Trier High School teacher and coach was one of two individuals in the country honored by the U.S. Marine Corps with the Excellence in Leadership Award in early December.
Before that, though, Davis was proud to be among the 100 nominated “mentors” and was unaware the grander recognition was already decided.
“They kind of tricked me,” said Davis, who is also a New Trier alumnus. “They sent out a film crew and said they were doing a promotional video of some of the mentors. … Then there was the award ceremony and they made the announcement (of the Excellence in Leadership Award.) And there was that video.”
Davis was nominated for the accolade by New Trier senior Jackson “Jax” Bridge, a football player and rower who was chosen by the Marines as a Semper Fidelis All-American.
The All-American program honors 100 student-athletes across America based on athletics and academics, as well as “embodiment of the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Each athlete then invited a mentor of their choosing to join the All-American program.
Bridge chose Davis, who is New Trier’s staff and student wellness coordinator, as well as a strength, powerlifting and football coach.
Davis also founded the Good Athlete Project, an initiative to direct the power of athletics into a force for good — both in individuals and the community.
The project has reached athletes across the world. Through the pandemic, Davis and the Good Athlete team have continued their mission remotely, through webinars, workshops and even virtual competitions.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “I think it’s becoming an important thing and allows us to scale a lot of the work we’re doing and get it all over the world. … I’m very proud of the work the team is doing to make it happen, and we’re proud of the impact we are having all over the world.”
Davis was notified over the summer that he was an All-American mentor courtesy of Bridge, but he didn’t know the Excellence in Leadership Award was coming until the virtual ceremony on Dec. 6.
During the event, the video featuring Bridge, New Trier Principal Denise Dubravec and other New Trier folks was shown. It was an appropriate moment, since Davis credits his peers for any success.
“I was taken off guard and immediately humbled,” Davis said. “I felt very fortunate and honored. . .. I couldn’t help but sort of slow down, reflect and be grateful, realize the value.
“Any recognition is a product of the people who you work with. That’s the plain and simple truth. So being able to work with the quality of athletes and coaches I’m able to work with is the only reason things like this are able to come about.”