Incoming junior Kevin Davidson will be taking his first snaps as a varsity quarterback not at suburban and more affluent San Ramon Valley of Danville but at McClymonds, a great school with a great athletic tradition that is located in the more rough-and-tumble West Oakland neighborhood.
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So often recently we have heard about negativity in the news involving the races, so when Kevin Davidson takes the field on Friday night as the starting quarterback against Sacramento Bradshaw Christian, the positive statement the McClymonds (Oakland) transfer and incoming junior quarterback will be making just can’t be overlooked.
Often when you call the CIF Oakland Section office, the phone is answered by Cal-Hi Sports 1986 Mr. Football State Player of the Year (Encino Crespi) and current CIF Oakland Section Commissioner Russell White himself. That was exactly the case earlier this week.
“I have to admit when I was out checking on McClymonds Coach (Michael) Peters and I saw the kid I was taken aback a bit,” White told Cal-Hi Sports. “But then one of the players saw my reaction and asked me if I would have felt the same way if the player was black.”
Kevin Davidson is white, and one of two white players on the Warriors’ team, and one of a handful of white students of the approximate 230-member student body at the West Oakland school. Not only that, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is one of the most promising junior quarterbacks in Northern California and turned some heads at the Bay Area Elite 11 camp.
“If Kevin was black would we even be on the phone?” queried second-year head coach Peters, an academic counselor that has been at the school for 25 years.
“It might be a big deal to everyone else but it’s no big deal to us,” continued Peters. “It doesn’t make any difference what race or color you are. You’re part of the family. At Mack, the only colors that count are orange and black.”
Still, the perception of many in the Bay Area doesn’t reflect the reality at McClymonds.
When word first broke that Davidson had transferred to McClymonds from San Ramon Valley (Danville), the whispers of haters and naysayers began to resonate.
“Can’t stand people who hate for no reason when they don’t even know anything about the situation,” Davidson tweeted recently.
So what is the real story? Let’s face it. White kids just don’t transfer to Mack from the predominately white suburbs like Danville.
McClymonds has been around a long time. In fact, there were mostly white kids at the school when my mother graduated in 1943. Reality is West Oakland has changed dramatically, and is continuing to change.
Back in the 1950s, it was predominantly African-American. The school has a history and reputation of producing some of the greatest African-American athletes ever in marquee sports. How about University of San Francisco and NBA basketball Hall of Fame legend Bill Russell or what about baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson? Cal-Hi Sports good friend Jay Blair, who passed away recently and was a constant presence at CIF basketball events, starred in the late 1950s with NBA standout Paul Silas.
But the neighborhood is changing, and according to both Commissioner White and Coach Peters, there is a re-gentrification going on in West Oakland.
That may or may not have anything to do with Davidson, but after hearing his story maybe some non-black families should start re-thinking their perceptions of the package at Mack.
“My dad’s job situation changed so we knew we were going to move,” Davidson told Cal-Hi Sports. “We looked at Granite Bay and places in Arizona, but we heard about McClymonds from my dad’s friends and it was a great opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
White is quick to point out the the successes at McClymonds in today’s environment.
“Today’s game is about delivering scholarships,” White said. “How many programs are pushing out scholarships like McClymonds? Coach Peters is doing a great job. This man has six scholarship kids and more to come, and they’re not all athletic. He has almost as many scholarships as the other schools combined from Fremont to Richmond. Just look at what that program has done.”
A perfect example of what White is talking about is Davidson’s teammate and All East Bay Preseason First Team defensive lineman Kelton Runnels. He has offers from Yale, Harvard and UC Davis.
Quieting the haters
Still, there are those that question the process involving Davidson, but Commissioner White is not one of them.
“The family moved into the community, presented various utility bills, and San Ramon Valley signed off on the paperwork. I met him and his dad and he’s a nice kid and the father is a stand-up dude. The paperwork is right. I’m not going to beat it down by looking for some nook or crack.”
Contrary to what the haters and naysayers may be chirping, it’s not just on the football field where the opportunities lie. There’s more than football and sports to Mack.
“Coming to McClymonds has been awesome. It’s a place where its like a prep school. I’m taking four AP courses,” Davidson remarked. “The teachers are all focused on academics and helping every kid get to college. They talk about it every day and they believe in you. We even have a class just to help you find a way to get to the next level.”
So how have the students and his teammates reacted to his arrival?
“Everyone has been so positive its been amazing. My teammates are thankful I’m here and our goal is to go for a state championship,” Davidson said. “Also, I’m able to focus on my academics and my future college career.”
Davidson may have some recruiting buzz, based on how he’s looked at Elite 11 camps and combines over the last two years, but the reality is he hasn’t taken a varsity snap in a game. Friday night will be his first.
“We’ve had some great quarterbacks here and a lot of kids ranked by recruiters,” Peters said. “Cal Reed and Brian Magee went on to Cal, Keith Williams to University of San Diego, and Eddie Heard is at Oregon. Kevin needs a little more work and he’s going to have to prove himself.”
The rest of the complete story starts Friday night in West Oakland when Mack takes the field and Davidson gets that rush of adrenalin from his first varsity start.
Some may not have imagined it would be at McClymonds, but it’s as a Warrior that Kevin Davidson will be providing the proof of his prowess.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend