Davids carves own wrestling path

by Allison Younge

For junior All-American Jason Davids, it wasn’t surprising that he was naturally drawn to wrestling.
“Wrestling ran in my blood,” he said. “In my family, every guy was a wrestler — that’s just the way it went.”
But every guy in the Davids family wasn’t just a wrestler, every guy was a Michigan wrestler. Five of Jason’s uncles wrestled for Michigan colleges and his father, Bill Davids, was a standout for the Wolverines.
From 1970-74 the elder Davids competed for the Wolverines earning one runner-up and a championship at Big Tens. He also placed fourth, twice, at the NCAA tournament.
Like any father, Davids hoped that his son would continue the family tradition and join the Wolverine wrestling program — and all along, Jason hoped for the same.
“I always wanted to go to Michigan,” Jason said. “That’s where the history was, that’s where everything was for me.”
The Davids’ dream continued until Jason’s senior year at Forest Lake (Minn.) High School. After winning a state title at 135 pounds and recording a spotless 40-0 record, the college selection process began.
The Gophers program produced a unique twist of fate for Jason and his father. After much consideration, Jason chose to break out of the family mold and remain in Minnesota.
“Michigan recruited me, but they didn’t offer me enough,” Jason said. “So, I decided to stay close to home and wrestle for the Gophers.”
Bill Davids admitted he felt a tinge of disappointment upon hearing the news, but he soon saw the benefits of his son’s decision.
“I was OK with it because I knew I’d be able to watch him a lot,” Bill Davids said. “Minnesota had a strong program and we really liked (head coach J Robinson) and the rest of the coaches.”
Being able to watch his son compete has always been important to Davids. A former Blaine High School wrestling coach, Davids has seen Jason’s progress throughout his career.
“I intentionally kept away from coaching Jason,” Davids said. “I never wanted to put any unnecessary pressure on him. I haven’t worked with him on wrestling at all, I’ve just watched him all the way through.”
This tactic has been effective. Jason has been successful at every wrestling level. At age 5, he joined the Minnesota USA wrestling program (the same club as Gophers 118-pounder Brandon Paulson). Even though he was young, it was evident that Jason had something extra.
“I didn’t need to be pressured into succeeding, I did it on my own,” Jason said. “With my amount of energy and my mindset as a kid (rowdy and rambunctious) wrestling became my outlet.”
Even though Jason and his dad have never exchanged wrestling techniques, many people have noticed their similar wrestling styles.
“When we wrestled Michigan this year, people said that I was aggressive and fun to watch just like my dad,” Jason said.
Jason’s explosive style is well-known among Gophers fans. He takes the mat with confidence using his quickness and agility to control his opponents. This season his flashy moves have resulted in nine pins and a 28-2 overall record.
“In my matches, it’s important that I score first,” Davids said. “If I get that first quick takedown, my opponent will get frustrated, and he’s more likely to quit.”
This intense attitude has been Jason’s trademark throughout his wrestling career. Actually, the quality has been important to both Davids wrestlers.
“When I wrestled, my goal was to score a lot of points,” Bill Davids said. “I always told Jason that he had a responsibility to the fans to make the match exciting by scoring a lot of points.”
Jason fits the role of crowd-pleaser. He was voted most exciting wrestler in his first two seasons with the Gophers, but he won’t take all the credit.
“The crowd is what makes me a crowd pleaser. When the fans get loud, I get excited and try to give them something more to cheer about. It works both ways,” Davids said.
Robinson relies heavily on Davids’ vocal leadership and his ability to produce match momentum. As a veteran in the Gophers lineup, Davids focuses on his match and goes out confidently to compete and perform.
The Gopher recognizes confidence as one of his greatest assets. To the development of this trait, he credits his most loyal fan.
“My dad always had more confidence in me than I ever had in myself,” Jason said.
And even though Jason chose take a different college path than his father, Bill Davids is completely behind him.
“After this year’s Minnesota-Michigan match, someone asked me about my mixed emotions,” Bill Davids said. “My son’s a Gopher and I’m a Gophers fan — there are no mixed emotions.”