Revels eager to show ability

Published 10:06 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Second of two stories on Davie’s new varsity girls basketball coach, Kevin Revels.

When South View’s girls basketball team was rolling up 187 wins over the past eight seasons, Kevin Revels was a background contributor, the assistant coach to Brent Barker.

Barker has never missed the playoffs in his 22 years at South View, piling up 495 victories with an .812 winning percentage. Now Revels is eager to show what he can do as the head man.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity because becoming a head coach at the varsity level was something that I’ve been thinking about for three or four years,” said Revels, 42. “And every time opportunities opened up in Cumberland County, I kind of steered away from them because I felt really comfortable where I was. So I didn’t pursue jobs. Everybody kept saying: ‘Why didn’t you apply for these jobs?’ I just didn’t think I was completely committed yet.

“This spring, when I started thinking hard about trying to find a head-coaching position, I knew I wanted to find a place that was going to be a good fit. I wanted to find a place that was a community-oriented school. I wanted to find a place where there was already some talent in the program and the program had been doing good things. I was looking for the challenge of trying to see if I can cut the mustard, because I felt like I had done as much as I could as an assistant at South View. We’re a program that’s in the playoffs every year and win 20-25 games every year. I felt I was ready to get out and try to do something on my own.”

Dave Ruemenapp guided the Davie War Eagles for three years, going 43-33 overall and 20-16 in the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference. He resigned shortly after last season to take the boys job at St. Stephens Episcopal in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Davie Athletic Director Mike Absher had 26 applicants for the job. Eleven were interviewed and five received second interviews.

“We were looking for somebody that had the whole package, had the fit for Davie both as a teacher and a coach,” Absher told the Winston-Salem Journal. “We weren’t necessarily looking for somebody that had a particular style of play. We were just looking for somebody that had a high knowledge of the game but also understood and believed in the whole purpose of high school athletics, which is to make these student-athletes better people. And he fit all of that stuff. Coming from another 4-A school in our state, he obviously understands the level that you have to get to to be competitive. I think he’s going to be really good.”

Revels grew up in Charlotte and attended high school at West Charlotte, graduating in 1992. He was in a basketball program that had largely unmatched star power. He played JV for two years, then made the varsity as a junior.

“We had essentially what was a practice squad,” he said of his junior year. “We had 16 players, with about four people to practice. It was a team that was absolutely loaded.”

West Charlotte was so loaded that Revels decided not to try out as a senior. “I was not good enough to play at West Charlotte,” he said. “We had probably six kids who played Division-I football or basketball on that team.”

One of them was Jeff McInnis, who went on to play for Dean Smith and the Tar Heels from 1993-94 through 1995-96 and then in the NBA.

“I remember he was the best at throwing alley-oops of anybody I’ve ever played basketball with,” Revels said. “He could lay the ball right in front of the rim from wherever he was on the floor. He just made it easy for you to look a lot better than you were because he was so good at passing the ball.”

Another Lions player in those days was Pep Hamilton. “He was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts until he got fired (in November of 2015),” he said.

There was Brian Knuckles, a star running back who earned a football scholarship to powerhouse Nebraska. The Lions also featured the Green brothers, David and Darren. “David Green was the starting quarterback at Duke (in 1996),” he said. “Darren was a three-year starter at small forward at George Washington.

“I mean we were just absolutely loaded. About midway through my junior year, I realized basketball at that level was not my thing. I had a job and a girlfriend and was trying to make really good grades, and I got an academic scholarship to N.C. State.”

Revels only lasted two years at N.C. State. The reason: He became a golf addict.

“I wanted to be a golf professional,” he said. “I told my parents I wasn’t going back to school; I was going to work at a golf course. I worked in the golf business for about six years in Raleigh. At that point, I realized that was not a very lucrative career. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at working. Work was a blast. I loved going to work, but I knew that wasn’t going to be a career.”

With family living in Fayetteville, Revels decided to resume his education at nearby UNC Pembroke. He earned his teaching degree and did his student teaching at South View in 2006-07. He never left, until he accepted the Davie offer.

“South View hired me while I was student teaching,” he said.

His first significant experience at coaching was with middle-school boys and girls teams in 2002. Then he moved up to coach the freshman boys and girls at South View. Two years later, he  became Barker’s assistant on the varsity bench in 2008-09, one year after the Tigers went 32-0 to capture the 4-A championship.

But let’s back up to his first year of coaching on the high-school level. He led the freshman girls in 2006-07. It was a humbling experience to say the least.

“We did not win a game,” he said. “I probably learned more from that than from being involved in back-to-back 29-1 teams (as varsity assistant in 2010-11 and 2011-12). It taught me a lot of patience.”

The South View juggernaut went 28-2 in Revels’ first year on the varsity staff in 2008-09. During the back-to-back 29-1 seasons, the Tigers were eliminated both times in the final four by Millbrook, the eventual state champ on both occasions. Last season they went 21-6 to extend the latest streak of 20-win seasons to six.

“It was a lot of fun making those deep playoff runs and having all your (playoff) games at home,” he said. “South View has been good for a long time. They were good before me and they’re going to be good after me.

“We’ve got a girl (Sidney Cook) playing at Virginia Tech right now. We’ve got a girl (Chinyere Bell) playing at George Mason. We’ve had girls who were really successful at Campbell. We had a girl who was the conference player of the year at Appalachian State. So we’ve had a lot of high-level players come through. So I’ve seen the difference between girls who have Division-I talent versus the girl who has junior college talent.”

When you spend eight years sitting next to Barker, who has a career record of 495-114, you’ve had ample opportunity to pick up lots of wisdom.

“He’s been my mentor,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned from coach Barker is learning to be patient and letting kids learn on their own. It just takes a different mentality with girls. With guys a lot of times, if they’re not doing something right, they need you to forcefully tell them to do it right. Girls a lot of times, I think they need to make a mistake and learn from it, and you just kind of guide them. (Barker) teaches in a different way than I had been accustomed to.

“(Barker) is extremely calm during games. I had been very excitable as a young coach. I think he’s gotten two technical fouls in his entire career, and both of them were completely bogus. So he’s not the kind of person that’s going to be in the ref’s ear and yelling. I’ve taken a lot of those lessons away from him.”

Revels has two daughters (ages 10 and 8) and a two-year-old son. He will be in the social studies department at Davie. He coached three sports, including boys and girls golf, for the past seven years at South View, but he’s cutting back to basketball only at Davie.

“Coaching three sports caused me to get burned out at some points,” he said. “It was just never a break. From Aug. 1 until the end of boys golf season, there was no break. I’m looking forward to dialing it back and having one thing that I can focus on.”

He will not have to change his wardrobe in the transition from South View to Davie. South View’s colors are also black and orange.

“I didn’t have to reach too far in the closet for the orange,” he said with a laugh. “I told coach Absher during the interview, orange is not my favorite color. It’s hard to get stuff that looks good with orange, but I have a lot of it.”

Revels hopes to find a home in Mocksville, which is 150 miles from Hope Mills.

“I’d love to be able to find something in Mocksville,” he said. “I want to be apart of the community. One of the things that attracted me to this job is that this is a community school. I want to build support from the community. When South View is successful, all of Hope Mills shows up for the games, and that’s just a really good feeling. I don’t think city schools necessarily get that kind of support from their community.”

The War Eagles haven’t won a conference championship since 2003. They’ve had just six conference championship teams since Bill Peeler’s glory years ended in 1984. Revels’ goal is to turn the War Eagles into perennial contenders.

“Coach Ruemenapp has done a very good job of turning Davie into a very good program, and I’m looking forward to taking over and seeing where we can go in the future,” he said. “One of my goals is to compete for conference championships every year. That was our mindset at South View, and that’s what I’m going to bring here. We’re going to be competing for conference championships.