Brown Middle School science teacher and football coach Ernest Davis recently received the biggest surprise of his life: a pair of tickets to Super Bowl LIII!
An avid football fan, a teary-eyed Davis was greeted on Jan. 25 by Brown Middle School cheerleaders, football players, members of the school’s drumline, and a cheering group of students when he learned that he was the lucky winner of the hottest tickets in town.
“It’s hard to put this into words,” said Davis, a veteran teacher at Brown and alumnus of Grady High School. “This is something that you put on your bucket list – something that you would like to do. Beyond that, I’m very surprised and very happy, and I’m so honored that my co-workers and people in the community think so highly of me. That’s bigger to me than even the Super Bowl.”
Sponsored by the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), the Superbowl ticket surprise was designed to honor individuals who are “champions of change” in their community. Davis was nominated by colleagues and Principal Tiauna Crooms for his tireless commitment as a teacher, coach and mentor to students and others in the community.
Crooms credits Davis with helping double the school’s science test scores, and says his commitment to students and teaching is unmatched.
“Coach Davis is truly a champion teacher,” Crooms said. “He’s never missed a day of school, and he’s an inspiration to our students in the classroom and on the field. He exudes the true meaning of what it means to be a coach and an advocate for students, and he is a father away from home for our kids. Every day, he stays behind and works with students, players, parents and colleagues, and has always been a team player. He is truly a champion for our school.”
According to Erin Pellegrino, vice president of communications, events and marketing for RISE, Davis exemplifies the organization’s mission to use sports to drive change in the community. Scott Pioli, assistant general manager for the Atlanta Falcons, RISE board member, and an ardent Brown Middle School supporter, suggested the organization reach out to the school for nominees.
“RISE is all about using sports to try to end racism,” Pelligrino said. “As an organization, we are seeking champions of change who are using sports to drive that change in their community. That’s why we were so moved by Coach Davis’ nomination. He is a father figure to a lot of kids, he goes above and beyond, he has a female football coach on his staff, which speaks of his commitment to diversity at all levels, and he’s having a real impact. That’s why he’s so deserving of this great award.”