Written by: Mathäus Schwarzen
Jeremy Davidson’s office is decorated with scarves branded with logos of soccer teams. Thirty-six of them hang above his antique soccer ball and framed jersey, along with other sports memorabilia.
His bookshelves, however, are filled with titles on theology.
Davidson is the new men’s soccer coach at Bryan College. He has dreams of soccer victory, but his focus is also on spiritual victories.
“I don’t want to just coach soccer. I want to be able to use soccer as a tool to invest in the lives of young men,” Davidson said. “I believe that if you handle the relationships, then the wins and losses will handle themselves.”
That task of mentoring the athletes at Bryan is something he takes very seriously. Davidson has a long history in ministry. He previously served as the soccer program director at Sherwood Christian Academy in Albany, Ga., where he was also the campus pastor and an instructor in the Bible Department.
He has also served in youth ministry and overseas missions in the past.
Davidson was a graduate of Bryan College in 1998 and was a star player on the soccer team.
He credits then-coach Sandy Zensen, who retired from Bryan College in 2014, as one of the chief influences of his coaching style. Zensen took the time to establish strong relationships with his players and encourage camaraderie among each other, and that has rubbed off on Davidson.
Davidson, however, prefers to adapt the way he coaches to the kinds of players he has available. His plans for the upcoming season include using players such as Jonathan Ricketts, Joe Goreham and Brad Spooner to bring an aggressive side to the soccer team’s style of play.
He hopes to work with Mike Keen, director of athletics, to turn the team into more of a family.
“That’s the main reason that I’m excited about being here, and Bryan offers that opportunity,” Davidson said. “That’s what Mike Keen said he was looking for: someone who could coach and hopefully be successful on the field, but even more so to be successful in the lives of these young men.”
Davidson’s coaching tactics have bled over to the rest of his life. Even caught off guard, he is welcoming. His hands tend to stay at his sides when he talks, but that doesn’t damage his almost-permanent smile.
He passionately explains sports plays to those who stop to talk with him. His goal to develop relationships on and off the soccer field has already inspired the rest of his staff.
Assistant Coach Stephen Ricketts, for example, is confident in the team’s new ability to dominate in the more technical aspects of the game.
“Expect to see Bryan holding on to the ball for significant portions of matches this season. Bryan will also be really dangerous in the attack this year,” Ricketts said. “Jeremy is fully confident in his squad’s ability to be quick and creative throughout the midfield and in the attacking third.”
Though Davidson is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each one of his players, he is hesitant to list any as stars. His goal is to create a family out of both the first and reserve teams—not single any out for stardom.
Davidson himself is no stranger to stardom. He was a four-time All-Region player for the NCCAA and a two-time NCCAA All-American second team member during his time at Bryan.
He was also a part of the first team in the school’s history to win the TVAC championship, and garnered three All-Conference first team honors from NCCAA.
But for Davidson, the greater good is not winning titles or even playing soccer.
“These guys are not going to remember the games years from now,” Davidson said. “What they will remember is the relationships.”
Davidson has worked in very similar circumstances, seeking to build relationships.
His work in missions in the mid 2000’s was with Operation Mobilization’s SportLink. There, he focused on using soccer as a means to build relationships and to share the Gospel in Rivne, Ukraine.
His later work with Sherwood allowed him to coach and teach. He also served for three years in youth ministry at Woolsey Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.
Davidson has seen the ins and outs of ministry. Even though he has worked his way around the world, he still brings a youthful exuberance to a conversation. He is passionate about his family.
His daughter, Brynn is a sophomore at Bryan and he can easily call to mind her reactions to classes from last year. A picture of his sons Landon and Beckham sits in his office next to a photo of their famous namesakes.
Davidson met and married his wife of 22 years during his own time as a student at Bryan. He stresses to his players that their families must trump their involvement in any sport, no matter how much they love the game. Faith comes first to him, followed closely by family.
Coach Davidson has thus far taken the Bryan Lions to two high-scoring victories, beating Montreat College 6-0 and Kentucky Christian College 9-0. The season record is 3-3-1. Davidson expects the season to be one of aggressive plays and strong foundation-building.
Mathäus Schwarzen is a staff writer for the Bryan Triangle, and a Sophomore at Bryan College. He spends his free time writing and listening to music. When he graduates, he is considering working for a travel magazine.