By KEVIN THOMPSON

sports@gctelegram.com

He's won over 500 matches in 19 years as a head coach, taken his teams to the state tournament numerous times, seen a number of changes over the years, and still enjoys coaching the sport he loves.

And through it all, Steve Davidson remains humbled by it all, including being named the Telegram area volleyball coach of the year.

Lakin finished this season with a 25-14 record, including 9-1 in the Hi-Plains League. The Lady Broncs won their first match at sub-state before falling to Southwestern Heights, a team that finished third at the Class 3A state tournament.

"We had a good year," Davidson said. "The girls worked hard and they had good attitudes. You can't ask for more as a coach."

Regardless of the year and what his talent pool is, Davidson always looks to the same coaching tenet.

"Expectations are always high with us," he said. "If you don't set your expectations high then you don't look to achieve anything. We thought we'd do a little better and win a few more matches than we did, but we didn't really lose any matches that we should have won."

In his tenure as a head coach, Davidson has seen a number of changes in his sport.

"Volleyball has become a lot more competitive," he said. "There's a lot more action; it's a lot quicker game. If you want to be competitive you have to be doing it all the time, not just during the season. Back in the eastern part of Kansas, they all play club volleyball and it shows when you play those teams."

Harder hitting, jump serves and taller players have added to the sport.

"It's a fun game to watch and a fun game to play," he said.

It doesn't take much to get Davidson motivated to coach.

"I enjoy it. Just being able to motivate kids to exceed their expectation — that's what I try to do," he said. "I like being around them, teaching the mechanics of things and the skills."

Mandy Michaelis, who played for Davidson in the mid-1990s, remembers her coach as intense and demanding in a quiet way.

"Coach Davidson doesn't say a lot, but what he does say is important," she said. "We were always sure to pay close attention because he was always teaching us. We always knew we were in big trouble when he got quiet."

Lakin athletic director Kim Lohman said that Davidson's quiet passion for the game permeates his system year after year.

"Whether he has very, very talented players or players that have to work very hard to compete, he always has his teams in contention for championships," Lohman said. "Steve cares very deeply about giving his girls a chance to be the best they can be."