Popular athlete/coach enters hall

The late Paul Davidson, pictured left alongside fellow Simcoe Lawn Bowling Club members Andrew and Tom Brightman, will enter the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition this summer. File Photo

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Find a sport – any sport – and chances are Paul Davidson has been involved in it.

Not only did he participate and coach on many different courts, courses, and rinks, Davidson and his teams usually came out on the winning end.

“He was into sports right from the time he was four years of age, that was the love of his life, that and history,” said Davidson’s wife Cathy. “He played every sport possible – at least he tried every sport.”

Davidson’s resume is a lengthy and decorated example of someone who gave everything he could both between the lines and as a coach.

He owns championships in basketball, lacrosse, hockey, and curling, but is most recognized for being part of the mixed pairs national and provincial lawn bowling titles won alongside partner Muriel LaPlante. Davidson was also a well-respected coach at Delhi Public School and Simcoe Composite School. In recent years, he served as a sight coach/guide for blind golfers and curlers at the provincial and national level before his death in 2016.

This summer, Davidson will be inducted into the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition.

“We were really thrilled, the girls (daughters Carrie Lingard and Erin Ridpath) worked really hard on the (nomination),” Cathy explained.
“I think the suggestion was made before, years ago, and he declined. He was pretty humble so I think he would be pleased but at the same time, humbled.”

Born in Kingston, the Davidsons relocated to Simcoe when Paul was 13. By that point, his love of competition – on the basketball court especially – was at its peak.

“I think the fact that he started when he was four years of age, it was something that was ingrained in him right from the time he was very young,” said Cathy.

Davidson went on to become a longtime coach of the Sabres, helping establish the program into the perennial contender it is today.

“I think that came with school when he started teaching,” Davidson said of her husband’s coaching career. “That was one of the things he loved best about teaching was the fact that he could coach.”

It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Davidson to coach during lunchtime, head home for a quick bite after school and then go to the gym or rink to participate with his friends.
Like basketball, Davidson began lawn bowling at a young age and that early start paid off in later years.

“That started with his mom and dad (Marie and Ottis), they lawn bowled here in Simcoe and it was something he could do with them,” Cathy explained. “That’s what got him started, he got our girls started as well. He was very competitive and loved the competition.”

He went on to team with LaPlante and become one of the most successful duos in club history.
“He and Murial worked well together, they were very close,” Cathy said. “Paul had a great sense of humour and so does Murial, they were a great team together.”

With his brother-in-law and class of 2008 member Mike Vrooman climbing the ranks in both the visually impaired golf and curling ranks, Davidson served as a guide and coach.

“He had a lot of patience, he was quiet and gave good advice,” said Cathy. “In any game he played he was very analytical. He knew the games well and had a lot of good advice.”
During basketball contests Davidson was known to be, in Cathy’s words, “a little more passionate at times”, but his approach to every athlete remained the same.

“Anybody who played for him really loved him and appreciated all that he did for them,” she added. “He tried to get the best out of everybody and I think he was very fair with everyone as far as playing time was concerned.”

Davidson will be inducted at a gala event on July 13th at the Delhi Hungarian Hall. Other members of the Class of 2018 include Jim Merrick, Dave Edmonds, David Baldock, and Peter Timpf.