Actions speak louder than words.
In the realm of life, your actions can either lead you to great heights or to the depths of sadness. For Madill Wildcat athlete Davius Sanders, his actions have led him to places he never once imagined he would go.
Just two years ago, Sanders was a troublemaker. He didn’t have the drive to succeed on the court, or in the classroom. He was kicked out of school multiple times for various reasons and was heading down the wrong path to nowhere.
“Sports in general changed my life,” Sanders said. “Just being around those people that I’d have never hung out with in my normal life helped me get on the straight path.”
“When I was getting in trouble in school, everything kept repeating itself,” Sanders said. “Just doing the same thing over and over again got old for me. That’s when I knew that I had to change some things in my life.”
One of those people who helped him on his path to redemption was Madill head football coach Kerry Roberts, who Sanders credits with having a huge impact on his life and the turnaround he’s been able to achieve.
“He’s basically helped me out with so much,” he said. “I’ve always done everything he’s ever asked of me. He’s kept me cool, and made sure I was alright. My coaches helped me through everything so I knew that I was doing the right thing.”
Despite not having the finances to afford the best cell phone, Sanders always stayed in contact with MHS head basketball coach Jason Wilkerson. During the season, Sanders sometimes would show up late to practice, resulting in a punishment of running bleachers before being able to join his teammates on the court.
Like a true team player, Sanders wouldn’t just run the bleachers, but he did them without mouthing off or talking back to his coaches or teammates.
This season, Sanders averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for the season. He was also the MVP of the Wildcats basketball team. To top it all off, he finished with a career high 24 points in his final game of the season to go with 14 rebounds.
“I’ve always been that type of character to just get the work done,” Sanders said. “My life has been about making smart decisions. When I wake up now, I realize that I made the right choice. If I’d have stayed on the path I was on, I’d have ended up in jail or kicking it somewhere else. I wouldn’t be in Madill, Oklahoma that’s for sure.”
“Davius is tough, courageous, hard-working, and he’s just an all-around great person and player,” MHS basketball coach Jason Wilkerson said. “Whatever the word is, Davius is that word. It’s been a pleasure to be around him for the last two years. He wanted to play, and I’m never one to turn anyone away. He had a clean slate with me from day one.”
“He’s one of those kids that coaches enjoy coaching,” Wilkerson added. “I pushed him really hard out there, and he never talked back or gave me an attitude. You want to have guys you can challenge and test. No matter what, he will always try and prove you wrong. Those are some rare qualities. I couldn’t tell you how many compliments teachers, administrators and everyone has given him over the last few weeks. Everyone is just so proud of the young man he’s become.”
When Davius found out he was nominated for the 2016-17 Chickasaw Nation Courage Award at the Best of the Arbuckles Preps banquet, he didn’t think it was real. He was also shocked to learn that multiple Madill coaches nominated him for the award.
“To me I was thinking ‘For real?’” Sanders said about being told he was nominated for the award. “I had no idea so many coaches had taken notice of my actions. I had no idea what to think about it. Something like this has never happened to me before.”
Coach Wilkerson said Davius’ example has given hope to other people who have drive and who are willing to work.
“A lot of kids want something, but aren’t willing to work for it,” he said. “You can do anything if you want it bad enough and are willing to work. Davius is living proof of that and he’s been setting that example for the last two years. He broke a lot of habits and that speaks a lot about him as a person.”