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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

History teacher doubles as basketball coach

Imagine walking into history class on the first day of school to see a teacher who already knows your strengths and weaknesses.  He knows your shooting percentage, your mile time, and for the past summer, he has been charting every lay-up you’ve missed.  He  even knows your after-school schedule.  
For senior Neha Vellanki, this isn’t  much of a stretch.  After all, it has happened to her twice: once as a sophomore in world history, and again as a senior in U.S. government.  
The teacher?  Mike Davey.  
Vellanki, like a handful of Davey’s students this year, is also a player on his varsity girls’ basketball team.
“[Davey] is really  into both teaching and coaching.  He’s dedicated and passionate,” Vellanki said. “I’ve gotten to know him really well being on his team and being his student.”
Davey said that having students both on his team and in his classes lets him get to know them much better.
“[By] having my basketball players as students, I build really great relationships because I get to see them for an extra couple hours a day, in a team situation, driving for goals together,” Davey said. “I know them so well that when it comes time to writing letters of recommendations, I really know their skills and strengths, so I can do a good job.”
Senior Kimberly Chou, who also takes a class with Davey and has him for a coach, said she is happy that she has  a teacher who knows her outside of school.
“I  see him off and on court, outside and inside of school,” Chou said. “[Davey] and I talk after school too sometimes, so there is a lot of interaction.”
According to Davey, students who are also his basketball players also have an academic advantage when it comes to spending more time with their teacher.
“Occasionally at practice, they’ll ask, should I come to tutorial about this, I’m a little confused about that,” Davey said. “Obviously because of the common contact they are able to ask what they need.”
Vellanki also said that Davey likes to tease the basketball players in her history class when they don’t show up to practice. 
“When I walk into class the next day, [Davey] will say something like, ‘Someone didn’t show up to practice.’ Then, he’ll start coughing and murmuring my name like ‘eh hem, eh hem, Neha?’”  Vellanki said with a smile.
Furthermore, Vellanki and Chou agree that Davey shares similarities between the way he coaches basketball and the way he teaches history.
“His really loud voice, for sure,” Chou said.  “And his passion to teach others.”
Ultimately, Davey believes there is always a deeper relationship created between his basketball players who double as his students.  
“I do think there is a special bond,” Davey said. “Even with my former boys players, I do continue post-high school contact.  I’ve even been to weddings of my basketball players who were also my students, because we spent so much time together before.”
Davey also said he admires students who are able to balance basketball with their academic life.  
“I do believe that basketball is part of the educational experience,” Davey said. “So I really have a lot of praise for [those students], because they are able to balance a variety of activities.”
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