Looking back at Davis High football history, two running backs stand out prominently.
The legendary No. 38, Marc Hicks, was widely considered the nation’s top running back recruit in 1984.
The other graduated in 2007, rushing for 1,151 yards and 11 touchdowns that year before going on to a productive career at UC Davis.
That was No. 22 Josh Reese, and it’s that number that has lived on long after his playing days.
In December, Reese opened a local gym called Performance 22, in honor of the number he’s worn all his life. But it’s the other part of the name that Reese hopes to pass on to local athletes looking to follow in his footsteps.
“For kids in Davis, at least when I was going to school at DHS, there was not a lot of opportunity for legitimate sport-specific offseason training,” Reese explained. “Being able to perform on the field is what helps young athletes get exposure to the next level of play. Performing well during the season requires hard work on and off the field, so that is where ‘Performance’ made its staple. And 22 was my football number since I can remember, even through UC Davis.”
Reese, who grew up in Davis, was a Blue Devil standout in basketball as well as on the gridiron, where he totaled 1,302 rushing and receiving yards his senior year, while scoring 14 touchdowns.
After high school, he stayed in town to play football at UCD.
“I stayed in Davis because they were the only school to offer me a scholarship straight from high school,” Reese said. “Other schools had offered me chances to walk on with an opportunity to receive/earn a scholarship, but those schools were far behind UCD when it came to academics (and I knew) that football has the potential to be a short-lived career.”
Reese concluded his Aggie career in 2010, finishing with 2,358 all-purpose yards as a running back and kick returner, then began coaching football and basketball at DHS in 2012. With his duties as the special teams/running backs coach and varsity hoops assistant, Reese always wanted to help Devil athletes reach the next level.
“A lot of DHS kids are extremely competitive and work hard. If more (college programs) were to look at DHS, they would find some legit diamonds in the rough and be very happy with their work ethic and skill,” Reese said. “I want to help other kids who have the potential to see that they can get to a Division I school if they continue to push, challenge themselves and not become complacent with ‘being good in Davis.’ They need to desire being good in all of California, because that’s who they are up against when it comes to scholarships.”
According to fellow coach Ty Brown, another former Blue Devil athlete who is now the defensive coordinator for the DHS football team, Reese is an exceptional coach and an even better person.
“He’s brought a lot of energy, an ability to connect with the kids and he can inspire and motivate them,” Brown said. “He’s gotten great production from our running backs and has made special teams fun; he’s made kids excited about being on that unit which is a huge key to success.”
Brown remembers one Reese story in particular. It was 2006 and Brown was getting his feet wet as a coach with the Devil freshman team. After their game, Brown and three of his players stayed for the varsity contest and saw Reese break a game-winning 30-yard touchdown run.
“I took the guys after the game to talk to Josh,” Brown said. “After he was finished talking to some reporters and coaches, he took 15, 20 minutes to talk to these three freshmen about working hard, keeping their grades up, etc. Here was Josh with his friends screaming his name, I’m sure girls lined up to say hi to him, his family waiting to take him home and this big-time senior took the time to talk to these three freshmen. Two of those three kids ended up playing college ball.”
“He’s a guy built from great character and a great background.”
And it turns out, making a difference like that is what makes coaching — and training players at his gym — such a fulfilling position for Reese, who wants to be a role model to current Blue Devils, just as he was mentored before.
“I truly love coaching,” Reese said. “I want to be someone who makes a difference in a young athlete’s life that can make them want to be better and do better for themselves.”
But this year, Reese won’t be able to coach any DHS sports as his focus is on building his business. He plans to return to coaching as soon as possible, but even in the interim, he still plans to help Devil athletes succeed. Members of the Davis High girls volleyball program, the Blue Devil varsity basketball team and the varsity football team have been training at Performance 22 in their offseason.
“I have obtained three DHS sports programs to do offseason training and run speed, strength and conditioning classes for them, while also running a sports conditioning class for some of the (graduated) seniors who are going to play in college next year — Winfred Roberson, Nick Yaver and Marvin Grant,” Reese said. “So although my time won’t be on the field this year with football, coaching indirectly through specific training will help them be ready for their upcoming seasons.”
Devil volleyball coach Julie Crawford has already seen the results of her girls’ work at P22. The players get up early in the morning to work out at the gym three days a week and have practice with Crawford two days a week. Crawford has seen enough from P22 that she wants to bring her DHS boys team into the gym later this year.
“(I’m seeing the results) all over, definitely in conditioning,” Crawford said. “The girls have really bought in to the program and I can see that they look confident in the gym and that transfers onto the court.”
Reese doesn’t only work with Blue Devil athletes, however, he also trains several teachers in the district including Crawford herself, David Achimore, Kerri Hogan and Liz Fall. Reese said he likes being able to give back to his hometown through his gym and that it has allowed him to interact with many DHS alumni — guys like Ian Marrow and Chris Lundin, who are also assistant Devil coaches — and former UCD football players like Erik Freese, Chad Sindel and Aaron Bennets.
Crawford, who is also a P.E. teacher at DHS, spoke highly of Reese’s training.
“He’s really motivating and inspires me to raise my own fitness level,” Crawford said. “I’m trying to set a positive example for both my players and my students in my P.E. classes; I want to practice what I preach. I’m learning things from Josh to incorporate into my classes, and he’s helped get me into the best shape of my life.”
And Reese’s plans to continue to expand his gym will allow him to work with more Blue Devil and Aggie athletes and other Davis fitness fans. And when Performance 22 is able to hire some more employees, Reese would love to be back on the DHS sideline.
“Plans with P22 would be to expand when the time is right and join up with some other coaches that have the same passion and dedication to unite the sports community of Davis and bring them back to section-winning teams,” Reese said. “We have been there before in the past, there is no reason we still shouldn’t strive for it now.
“When things again are more established and settled, I would like to be a head football coach. The football itch still kicks around this time of year and that is something that will forever be in me.”
Notes: Reese is the son of Stanley Reese and Elizabeth Clark-Anibaba and his stepfather is local soccer club coach Jammal Anibaba. Seattle Sounders FC and former DHS soccer star Jalil Anibaba is Reese’s step-brother. … Performance 22 is located at 912 Fifth Street, Suite 300. For more information, visit the gym’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/performance22performance22.