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Former players return to coach

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Former Madera Coyotes and Bethune Cookman University standout Mariah Davis talks to a couple of Hawks players coming off the field during an early-season game against Madera. Davis is giving back to the Madera softball community by helping her father, Keith, coach the Liberty Hawks softball team.


Teammates on the 2014 Madera Coyotes softball team, Mariah Davis and Aaliyah Cuevas, are giving back to the softball community by helping their fathers coach at Liberty High School and Madera South High School, respectively.

Davis, who attended Bethune Cookman in Daytona Beach, Florida, graduated in 2019 and began helping her father, Keith, with the Hawks’ softball team this year. It is Keith’s first year as a head coach so having her daughter help him relate to the players is a benefit.

“My dad is always my dad,” Mariah said. “I still call him dad when I’m out there. I understand the reasoning and how he approaches things more. Even when the girls don’t get it, I can tell him to explain it again. I speak Keith in a lot of ways.”

Meanwhile, Cuevas finished her playing career at Fresno State last season and was recruited to join her father, Alfonso Cuevas, on the Madera South coaching staff, headed by Peter Gallegos.

“That’s my favorite thing ever to coach with my dad,” Aaliyah said. “It’s been even more fun because he’s a great coach. In my eyes, he’s one of the best coaches. Being around him and to coach with him is the best. He was my coach growing up. Now the roles are switched. Now, I’m coaching with him.”

However, both of them are proud that they are able to give back to the Madera softball community.

Both players are enjoying their first year as a coach.

“I’m actually enjoying more than I thought. I’m having a lot of fun being out there with the girls and helping teach them the sport of softball,” Cuevas said. “A lot of them, it’s their first or second year playing softball. I’m in charge of the outfield. I do my own thing out there with them. It’s been fun doing that.”

“It’s pretty cool to get along with these girls on a different level where it’s serious, but not too serious,” Davis said. “The girls make it very easy to give feedback to. A lot of the girls are receptive to the information. They want to get better. It makes a lot of what I’ve learn easier to explain to them because they want to get better.”

Although Davis was a second baseman at Madera, she moved to centerfield at Bethune and blossomed. Cuevas was a running weapon for Fresno State, but also spent time in the outfield. Both are coaching the outfielders, which is their specialty.

“That was my worry about what I’m walking in to was how much would I have to coach,” Davis said. “Do I have to teach them the fundamentals? Not at all. They make it easy to be out there. We can work on the harder stuff and not the basics.”

“I have my specific job and that’s my responsibility,” Cuevas said. “I’m able to do what I want with them. Pete just trusts me and lets me do my thing. I’m able to teach the girls certain things that I wish I would have known in high school. Going from high school to college, I had a good foundation set, but there was so much more I was able to learn after that. I want to teach the girls that.”

However, it was the allure of being coach with their fathers that brought both players to Liberty and Madera South.

“It’s somewhat different,,” Cuevas said. “Some of the girls didn’t even realize he was my dad. I could tell it’s cool to see the respect they have for them. He knows everything. His responsibility is everything and he’s able to teach them a lot. My mom told me he’s so proud of me. There’s some things he’s been learning from me. That was something nice to hear. He’s just proud of me.”

“It’s amazing,” Alfonso said. “Everything we have worked for is great. She is giving back to the community. Having Aaliyah here is perfect. Now, we are on the same level. Every time I see her talk to the players, I think it’s great.”

“My dad is actually why I’m coaching,” Davis said. “I really didn’t want to get in it. I know how my dad is as a coach and a person. I knew going in to coaching, there wouldn’t be any feet I would be stepping on. I would be given free reign. It’s very different. I didn’t know if coaching would be for me. That’s why I haven’t done it. It’s been really good. I think the girls have made it easier. They have given me a great opportunity to get my foot in the door to coach. I feel like my dad is not me. He’s the stern one, but know how to have fun. I’m not the hard one all the time. I’ll let my dad be that.

“It’s one of the things in my life that has come full circle for me,” Keith said. “To coach her all those years and watch her in college and to have her coach with me is a blessing to me. I have an assistant coach that is lucky to be my daughter, but knows every philosophy and the way I coach more than anybody.

“It’s almost indescribable. You would have to be in my shoes to feel what it’s like,” Keith said about watching his daughter coach. “To know the successes and hard work she has put in and to give back to the girls of the game is great to see. She’s telling kids the same things I am telling them. However, at their age, she may not have understood it, but now she does. It’s a treat for the girls to have someone who had to work so hard and get the accomplishments she had.”

Both players grew up in the Madera system and has had to adapt quickly to their schools.

“For me, it’s very different at Liberty,” Davis said. “At Madera, we were very blessed with Judy Shaubach and the boosters. I didn’t realize how much we got. When I got to Liberty, they didn’t even have practice shirts. It was a wake up call. It’s just different. It’s great that we can build the program.”

“I feel like I learned a lot from going high school to college,” Cuevas said. “I learned so much in college, things that I didn’t even think about in college. Even simple things that would have made me so much better. I had a good foundation. It’s extra little things that would have made me even better.”

Both players are working to get into their careers so getting the opportunity to coach, much less coach with their fathers, came at the perfect time.

“I feel like if I were able to stick to it, being a head coach would be something to look took,” Cuevas said. “It depends on the route I’m going on. with my career. I’m hoping I’m able to keep coaching, but it depends on my job.”

“It’s pretty awesome. I kind of regret not getting into coaching sooner,” Davis said. “I wasn’t sure if it was for me. Even now, it’s not something I can say I’m going to do forever. This gets be back into the game. I miss being out there. Now that (younger sister) Josslynn is not here, we can spend all our time coaching the high school girls.”

Cuevas plans to work in corrections and is currently in the background-check part of the process.

“I’m a few steps away, but I still have to go to the academy,” she said. “That’s my career goal. This came at the right time for me. I can focus and spend all my time coaching softball.”

Davis works at Madera Community Hospital.

“I do compliance and make sure the nurse’s competencies are up to date while waiting to get into nursing school,” she said. “This is something to do while waiting to get into nursing school.”

Davis is also creating a family legacy. After she spent four years at Bethune Cookman, her younger sister, Josslynn, is also playing at Bethune. The Davis family had a chance to watch Josslynn play a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s pretty awesome to watch Josslynn play for the same school I did,” Mariah said. “I am a proud big sister. I’m always her No. 1 supporter. Just seeing my sister playing at the highest level is an amazing feeling.”



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