New Sidekicks owner employs old formula for success
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Following that formula, Ronnie Davis is a lucky man, indeed.
Ever since high school, Davis was the white boy who could jump. His remarkable athleticism enabled him to be named 1986 Class 2A high school basketball Player of the Year in tiny Sabine, Texas, where he led the Cardinals to a Final Four appearance at Austin's famed Super Drum during that year's state playoffs.
Following a college hoops career at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, he took his degree in business administration and jumped into his car for a road trip to Port Charlotte, Fla. Arriving at the Texas Rangers' spring practice facility, Davis finagled his way in front of GM Tom Grieve, where he presented a resume` that left Grieve chuckling at his audacity. That was the beginning of how a boy who grew up in a town without a single red light and didn't know a soul in the pantheon of big-time sports ended up working for all four major sports franchises in the Metroplex until he became a team owner himself. Horatio Alger would be proud.
"Sports is like a major fraternity. Once you're in, you're in. It really is who you know, and once I got in, they couldn't kick me out," Davis said. "A guy overheard me talking to (Grieve) and says, 'My son's best friend is head of security. It's probably not the job you want, but it'll get your foot in the door.' I said, 'I'll take it.'
Davis found himself manning security in right field with former NFL running back Curtis Dickey. The two kept the peace among the bleacher bums well enough that it lent Davis a supplemental job in the ticket office, where he met his wife of now 20 years, Missy.
Davis went from the Rangers to the Mavericks, the Cowboys and the Stars over the ensuing two decades, handling billets in sales, marketing and promotions. It proved to be invaluable experience. In fact, Missy Davis said it was her husband's experience that made their ownership of the Sidekicks logical.
"I was supportive of it because I knew he had the experience. I thought it was the next step," she said.
Davis bought the team that plays in the Professional Arena Soccer League in May 2012.
"He actually told me, 'I have a special birthday present for you this year. I bought you a soccer team.'" Missy Davis recalled.
"This is the most-exciting adventure we've done together," she added with a smile.
Suffice it to say it's also one of those birthday presents that wasn't returned.
Local soccer icon Gordon Jago was the original coach of the Sidekicks. Jago echoed Missy Davis' observation about her husband being a natural fit to lead the rebirth of the franchise. Perhaps as much as what he has done, it is how Davis has done it that Jago credits to the Sidekicks' impressive success during this maiden season back on the pitch after an eight-year hiatus.
"Ronnie's massive marketing and sales knowledge for this area has certainly assisted him in resurrecting the Dallas Sidekicks, but I think he has been very clever in his marketing in bringing back many of the old promotions, even the music of the past Sidekicks atmosphere," Jago noted. "It has created the atmosphere of the memories of the previous days; it's created the old Sidekicks atmosphere and it's bringing back the most important aspect: community. The team is a community team. It's their team -- the Sidekicks."
Jago and Davis both effusively credit the face of the franchise, Tatu, for putting together the team's successful on-field product. Tatu assembled the player personnel and coached the team to the Central Division championship with a 13-3 regular-season record. The Sidekicks will host the Rio Grande Valley Flash on Thursday in Leg 2 of the first round of the playoffs. The Flash won Leg 1, 5-4 in overtime, Sunday in Hidalgo.
"I think this season has exceeded our expectations, on and off the field," Davis said. "How quickly the fans would come back, that was a concern. Would they connect with the old Sidekicks? Then on the field, it was making sure the product was as good as the old days. Tatu has certainly done that.
"I knew we had some fans, but I didn't know we had as many passionate fans as we have," Davis said, addressing again the off-field concerns. "Fans comes from the word 'fanatic,' so I guess when it comes to passionate, we've got them."
The Sidekicks have averaged more than 5,000 fans for each of their eight home games in the AEC, which seats 6,001. Thursday's game is slated for 7:30 p.m., at the Allen Event Center. The team is offering "Buy One, Get One Free" ticket sales for the game. A possible 30-minute mini-game will be played 15 minutes after the conclusion of the regularly scheduled game, should the Sidekicks win the first game. The winner of the series will advance to the Ron Newman Cup in San Diego on March 10-11 for the semifinals and finals of the PASL championship.