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Spending time around collegiate athletics provides proof that sports matter.
April 30 brought an intriguing sight to the Aggie Softball Complex.
The 18th-ranked Aggies were less than 20 minutes away from first pitch against No. 1 Florida in a nationally-televised contest, but the magnitude of the impending game was briefly replaced with gleaming smiles and hearty hugs as the entire A&M team and coaching staff gathered around a pair of maroon-wearing fans near center field.
In the middle of the euphoria stood Monty and Becky Davis.
The Davises had been welcomed onto the field and surrounded by jubilant faces for good reason. The couple from Cypress, Texas, recently committed to contributing the lead gift for the sparkling new home of Aggie softball. Their appearance prior to the Florida game capped a spectacular few days for coach Jo Evans' program. On April 27, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approved the construction of the state-of-the-art facility, and just two days later, Monty and Becky were gathered amongst the team to receive a flurry of grateful maroon-and-white embraces.
It was a special moment.
"We are so pleased to be a part of this project," said Monty Davis. "We want this to be the best facility in the nation."
The blueprints for the stadium boast it will be just that.
With seating for 2,000 fans, including the addition of club seats, a pair of suites, a new press box and an indoor hitting facility to go along with a new locker room, players lounge, training room and team meeting rooms, the new stadium will be the premier collegiate softball stadium in the country.
"This stadium will have an immediate and enormous impact on our program," said Evans. "The immediate impact will be felt by our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans."
Impacting student-athletes is something the Davises have had a strong passion for since becoming significantly involved with the 12th Man Foundation just five years ago. In that time, Monty, class of 1977, and Becky, class of 1976, have made lead contributions to the Davis Center for Football Player Development, the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center, the Bright Football Complex renovation and the Kyle Field Redevelopment Campaign.
Indeed, the Davises have been key components of A&M athletics' multiple construction projects in and around Kyle Field.
"Monty and Becky represent what makes Texas A&M a special place," said Travis Dabney, the 12th Man Foundation's senior vice president of major giving programs. "They see a need, and instead of pointing out the problem, they help find a solution."
Finding solutions is one area in which the Davises excel.
Monty Davis has used that particular skill to build a successful career in international business. His work has included stops in Scotland, England, Canada and the United States, and he has spent the last 18 years as Chief Operating Officer of Core Laboratories. The company has 70 offices in more than 50 countries and is a leading provider of reservoir description, production enhancement and reservoir management services in the oilfield service industry.
Throughout their business travels around the world, the Davises have always maintained a keen eye on Aggie sports. Monty's father, who lived stateside, kept the couple apprised of A&M's exploits and regularly sent VHS tapes of football games overseas. And on at least one occasion, the Davises were awoken with a 3 a.m. phone call as friends and relatives back home celebrated after a big football win against the Texas Longhorns.
Not surprisingly, the Davises' infatuation with A&M rubbed off on their daughters, Kelsey and Cristina. While living in Canada in the 1990s, Kelsey was nearing her high school graduation and considering applying for colleges. Becky and Monty suggested a number of respected college options in Canada, but Kelsey had her mind set on something further south.
"She said, 'I don't know what you're talking about because I want to go to A&M,'" Becky recalled. "We decided we needed to get back to Texas."
That led to Monty being hired into his current role with Core Laboratories and allowed both daughters to attend A&M while staying close to home. Kelsey, a member of the class of 2003, eventually married Mack Nolen, class of 2004. Cristina graduated from A&M in 2012. The Davises also have three granddaughters, Maya Grace, Sofia and Sienna.
The family's move to Texas also greatly impacted the future of Texas A&M athletics.
While the Davises have been football season ticket holders since 1977, they had never been involved in a significant capacity with the 12th Man Foundation until Monty read a 12th Man Magazine story that piqued his interest in May 2011.
The story chronicled the athletic department's need for a football-only weight room and player development center, and Monty was particularly inspired by the way then-coach Mike Sherman had made a six-figure pledge to kick-start the fundraising campaign.
Monty cold-called the Foundation's Major Gifts office to learn more about the project. After he explained his interest in the new facility, the staffer who answered the phone politely told Monty that all the development officers were out of town, but promised someone would call him back the following week.
Before Davis hung up the phone, he casually mentioned the magnitude of the gift he was considering.
"I mentioned we were interested in doing something in the neighborhood of a million dollars," Monty said. "There was a little pause, and she said, 'Stu will call you right back.'"
"Stu" was Stuart Starner, the 12th Man Foundation's senior vice president for major giving at the time. Starner quickly returned Monty's call, and months later, thanks to the exceptional generosity of the Davises, construction began on what eventually became the Davis Center for Football Player Development.
The Davis family has played an indelible role in supporting Aggie athletics ever since, with Monty currently serving a term on the 12th Man Foundation's Board of Trustees. While much of their philanthropy has centered around football, their most significant gift to date is now the pledge to support the new softball complex.
Their generosity will be instrumental in placing A&M among the national elite in terms of facilities.
"This is going to be the best stadium in the country, hands down," said Evans, now in her 20th season as the Aggies' coach. "It is huge for our program that the Davises have stepped up and been so generous and supportive of our program. What an honor for us that we have people in the Aggie community who want to support us in that way. Now, we just want to live up to their high standard and play hard for them."
The dire need for a new facility was made obvious to Becky during a tour of the aging Aggie Softball Complex and associated team areas last November.
"Horrified might be a little too strong of a word, but I was very taken back by the conditions of the facilities that our players and coaches were using," Becky recalled. "I know Coach Evans does a really great job, and we have always been impressed with her enthusiasm for her athletes. So, when we had an opportunity to do this, we bantered it back and forth. Once Monty saw the facility, he was on board right away."
And just like the Davis' generosity was spawned with the article they read in 12th Man Magazine five years ago, they are hopeful that their story will inspire others to support the softball project at any giving level.
"This is a great opportunity to benefit a group of young Aggies and future young Aggies who are going to be able to have a much better experience with their team," said Monty. "This is a critical need for the athletic department. This facility will show commitment to softball, and it will show that not only do we want to win, but we value the young ladies who are playing the sport. They deserve to have an A&M-quality facility.
"Maybe somebody else will look at this project and say, 'Hey, I can help out, too.' That support is something that is important and it does make a difference. This stadium is something that has to happen. We're very proud that it is going to happen, and it's going to be exceptional."
The 12th Man Foundation is actively fundraising for the new softball facility. To learn how you can be a part of the successful completion of the new stadium or to learn more about the project, please contact the 12th Man Foundation's Major Gifts office at 979-260-7595.
When it comes down to it, education is the most important thing someone can have, and student-athletes give so much of their time and talents to our school. If we can help support them to earn that diploma and Aggie ring, then that is what we want to do."