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Celebrating 20 years of the Dugan Davis Track and Field Complex

Celebrating 20 years of the Dugan Davis Track and Field Complex
Celebrating 20 years of the Dugan Davis Track and Field Complex
The Dugan Davis Track and Field Complex from above

Under the bright lights of the Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex, future state champions hone their sprinting and soccer dribbling skills, spirit club teams collapse in giggles trying to win a tug-of-war, and enthusiast fans recognize senior athletes for their accomplishments.

For two decades, the facility has brought together Harpeth Hall students, parents, and fans as a place for community building and competition. Built by her children as a tribute to Harpeth Hall teacher and coach Dugan Davis, the complex celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 5, 2002.

This year, as the complex reaches its 20th anniversary, it stands as one of the finest athletic facilities in Tennessee for female athletes then and now. 

“With the locker rooms, an auxiliary training room, and a turf field that allows for play no matter the weather, the Dugan Davis Complex is the centerpiece of our soccer, lacrosse, and track and field teams, plus it is the gathering place for our middle school recess and school spirit activities like Field Day,” said two-time state-winning Varsity Soccer Head Coach Meggie Lucas. 

“Simply, it is central to the identity of Harpeth Hall.”

WATCH THIS VIDEO CELEBRATING THE ATHLETES AND EVENTS AT THE DUGAN DAVIS TRACK AND SOCCER COMPLEX

Envisioning the future of female athletics

Before the Dugan Davis field house was built, an equipment closet in a small outbuilding near the old athletic field was filled to the brim with pole vaults, mats, hurdles, soccer balls, spray paint for marking the field, field hockey sticks for physical education, wooden lacrosse sticks, and anything that didn't fit into the storage space under Bullard. 

The girls had to change in locker rooms across campus in Morrison and Bullard gymnasiums. Water would pool near the field when it rained, and games would be canceled. When there was lightning?

“Entire teams crammed into that outbuilding closet and into the two-stall bathroom,” said Legare Vest, who coached multiple championship lacrosse teams at Harpeth Hall. “There was just no place to go.”

On game days, Ms. Vest recalls, she would leave her classroom to measure and paint lacrosse lines on the field. For the pregame, there was a jam box with a mix tape and a bullhorn for announcing lineups. During the event, an air horn blew for fouls and a stoppage of game time. They used a flip chart for the score. “For a teacher coach,” Ms. Vest said, “it was a lot of moving parts.”

Former Harpeth Hall English teacher and coach Dugan Davis with her children Joe, Anne '73, Beth '74, and Pat Davis '82.

The Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex changed that, serving as a special tribute to the athletes at Harpeth Hall and to a teacher and coach who helped inspire them.

Dugan Davis was a middle school English teacher known for her love of literature, her enthusiasm, and her energy — which she channeled into all she did. When Harpeth Hall students asked for more athletic opportunities, Mrs. Davis responded by founding and coaching the first middle school track, soccer, and cross country teams, as well as the upper school soccer program. The track team won the HVAC championship the year after it began. When the soccer team didn’t have other schools to compete against, Mrs. Davis arranged for Harpeth Hall to play the University of Alabama soccer team. The Honeybears came out victorious.

Mrs. Davis taught and coached at Harpeth Hall from 1973 to 1985. As the Harpeth Hall athletics program continued to grow and flourish, it became clear the facilities also needed to keep up with the times. A gift from the Davis family children — Joe, Anne '73, Beth '74, and Pat Davis '82 — became a unique way to honor what their mother began.

Championship-level facility for girls

Harpeth Hall Track and Field Coach Jim Romero with an athlete in 2022.

On an early December morning assembly in 2002, the entire student body, faculty, family, and friends of the Davis family gathered outside for the dedication of the Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex. It was a facility unlike any other for female athletes.

The complex encompassed approximately 6,774 square feet and later featured the first artificial turf field in the state for girls athletics, which was an additional gift to the complex from Joe Davis. In addition, the new two-story athletic facility housed training facilities, locker rooms, grandstands, and a concession area. The Dugan Davis field house also provided the first-ever weight room on the campus, which Harpeth Hall Track and Field Coach Jim Romero said “gave birth to the strength and conditioning program at Harpeth Hall, which then allowed every athlete across all sports to train and prepare for her sport.”

Over the years, the new facility became a place where students felt comfortable pushing themselves mentally and physically.

“The facility was a welcoming and unintimidating space for all students at Harpeth Hall, not just athletes, to prioritize their health and wellness goals,” said Harpeth Hall alumna Morgan Stengel ‘05. “The Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex was the first act in establishing Harpeth Hall’s continued commitment to comprehensive health and wellness and athletic performance and excellence.”

In the 20 years since the facility opened, Harpeth Hall’s soccer, lacrosse, and track and field teams have combined to win a total of 13 state championships — five in lacrosse, two in soccer, and six in track and field, adding to track’s historic record total of 17. But beyond that, the Dugan Davis Track and Field Complex has brought Harpeth Hall’s community together in memorable ways.

A girl looks up at the sky during the 2017 solar eclipse in Nashville.

In 2017, groups of faculty, parents, students, and neighbors gathered on the field to watch the total eclipse. Former Cross Country and Track Coach Jack Henderson remembered the collective anticipation of the moment as everyone put on their dark glasses and directed their eyes toward the sky. “Then came the eerie darkness and awed silence as the sun disappeared momentarily,” he said. “I just looked around and smiled, knowing I would never forget that moment.”

It’s one of many unforgettable experiences to take place in the complex. Each year, it hosts hundreds of athletes from throughout Nashville for the city track and field championships and welcomes girls from across Middle Tennessee for summer camp fun.

“I love when campers or players from an opposing team come to Harpeth Hall for the first time,” Coach Lucas said. “When they step out on the field, there is an inevitable exclamation about the facilities and how all of it is for girls. What an amazing realization that girls and girls' athletics are important.”

‘Tremendous opportunities’ to come

A Harpeth Hall goalie makes a save in JV soccer match in September 2022.

When the Dugan Davis children gave The Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex in their mother’s honor, Harpeth Hall’s parents also contributed with the gift of the field lights.

For two decades, girls have shone brightly underneath that glow on a turf field of their very own. 

Now, 20 years later, the complex will receive another unique addition this spring when the school installs a new scoreboard courtesy of an anonymous donor as well as athletic program funds. The new scoreboard will serve as a reminder of the continued support and celebration of our athletes and their accomplishments as well as the legacy of the Davis family.

“Over the past 20 years, girls and young women have played hundreds of soccer and lacrosse games and learned valuable life lessons,” Head of School Jess Hill said. “Countless athletes throughout Nashville and across the state have competed on the track and tested their mettle. We are forever grateful for Dugan Davis, her family, and all the families who provide tremendous opportunities for Harpeth Hall students and our athletic program.”

The Dugan Davis Track and Soccer Complex at night in 2011.