June 1, 2018

Special honor binds daughter with dad

By John Shaughnessy

Rachel AyresIt was a moment that a coach longs for, a moment when everything she tries to stress unfolds in an unforgettable way.

For Rachel Ayres, that moment happened after a volleyball game. As she drove her players back to their school in a team bus, she came upon a situation where a man in a wheelchair had fallen out of his van.

When Ayres and her assistant coach rushed to help him, they soon learned that he already had assistance and an ambulance had been called. Heading back to the team bus, Ayres saw a scene that still moves her to tears years later.

“All the girls were in a circle, holding hands and praying,” Ayres says. “It touched my heart. It meant a lot to me.”

So did the evening of May 1 when Ayres received the St. John Bosco Award, the highest honor from the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).

What made it even more special for her was that she now shares that honor with her father, Dennis Davis, a longtime CYO coach at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis who also has been an assistant football coach at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School.

“He’s such a role model through my life,” Ayres says. “He’s very quiet, very humble. So many of his former players will come up to me and say just what a positive influence he was in their lives and what a great coach he was. He’s everything I’d like to be in a coach.”

Ayres has strived for that goal in 21 years of coaching, following in her father’s path at both Lourdes and Scecina. The mother of two sons has coached kickball, basketball and volleyball in the CYO—all with the same goal.

“You want to challenge them to make them better, and help them be good sports on the court and good people off the court. And I like them to take responsibility. It’s really seeing kids realize their capabilities—knowing they can get better and grow.”

She thinks of the coaches who did that for her. She also makes a point of mentioning her mom Marie, who still coaches in the CYO. And she gives special thanks to her husband Kevin for all his support during all her years of coaching.

“Twenty-one years later, it’s just a big part of me. There would be an absence in my life if I wasn’t able to do this. I would miss the people way too much. That’s what keeps you going—all the wonderful people, all the friends you made.” †


Related story: Archbishop salutes CYO honorees for living ‘the joy of the Gospel’

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