For 34 years, 29 of them in the D.C. public schools, Herman Daves dedicated his days to doing what he wanted to do most -- teaching and coaching. Daves, a native of Knoxville who taught and coached several sports at Armstrong, Dunbar, Western and, for the last 14 years, Ballou, retired last month.
"I always wanted to teach and coach young people," said Daves, who refused to keep won and loss records during his 20 years of coaching basketball. "I think the lack of money, facilities and transportation problems made it very difficult to do a good job and I think motivation was my biggest asset. I believed in playing within the rules and, because I did, some people felt I had an attitude."
Daves, who was an active member of the Interhigh League's Rules and Ethics Committee, began to lose much of his zest for coaching when he felt it was apparent other coaches were circumventing the rules to help their programs. Recruiting was something Daves spoke out against.
"I never went to a junior high school to see any kid. I worked with the students who came to me," he said. "At times, parents sent kids to me because they respected me as a man and as a coach. I believed in discipline and working hard. You can win without stealing everyone's ball players."
Daves' basketball teams at Western (now Ellington School for the Arts) in the 60's and early 70's and Ballou are legendary. With such players as Jeff O'Neal, Lawrence (Catfish) Bradford, Floyd Lewis, LaMar McCoy, Garland Pinkston, Andrew White, Larry Watson and Curtis Perry at Western and brothers Charles (Jitty) and Randolph Campbell at Ballou, Daves' teams always ranked among the elite in the area.
"I had good players who worked hard and believed in themselves," Daves said. "I was especially proud of Perry, who was mediocre but worked extra hard and went on to play nine years in the NBA (Milwaukee and Phoenix). White may have been the best all-around player I ever had because he did so many things for three years for us. And Catfish was a great player."
Daves said one of his biggest thrills was when his Ballou team, led by the Campbell brothers, defeated then No. 1-ranked St. Anthony's, coached by John Thompson. "We also beat a good McKinley team with Bill Martin (Georgetown) and upset Spingarn in a playoff game," he added. "I've had some good moments."
Daves actually stopped coaching in 1976 but returned the following year because the administration couldn't find a basketball coach.
"I came back because there was no one else," Daves said. "I wouldn't think about doing it again though; too many things have changed. And it isn't the kids, either, it's the adults. This win-at-all-costs mentality is terrible. There's no ethics at all."
Otto Jordan, the Interhigh League athletic director, underwent surgery last month. Jordan wouldn't disclose the nature of his operation but said he was fine and would return to his duties in about a month.
St. John's is seeking a football opponent October 26th. Contact Doonie Waldron at the school.