SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Like one of the most historic stadiums in Texas, Rick ‘Blades’ Davis, one of Sweetwater’s long-time athletic trainers whose career spanned 50 years, was a fixture in high school sports throughout Texas. From Bridgeport to the Metroplex to Sweetwater and Blackwell, Blades gave everyone his all, as his wife of 38 years, Patti Davis, shared.
“He didn’t care what color your skin was. He didn’t care what color your jersey was. Just anybody who had a problem, he was there,” Davis shared.
His care for athletes didn’t stop there. It continued with his beliefs: family, faith and education.
Similar to this historic photo of Rick Davis when Sweetwater won the 1995 state championship, there was another moment that would identify him for years to come in how he earned the nickname Blades.
“He had an athlete that was a football athlete go down on the practice field, and Rick thought that he maybe had broke his ribs, so Rick took his scissors out and cut up his practice jersey. Some of the kids picked by calling him, ‘Hey, don’t let ‘Blades’ get a hold of you,’ so that’s how he got the nickname Blades,” Davis recalled.
It was in the spring of 2022 that would sideline Blades, ending a 50-year career in athletic training.
“Rick was diagnosed in March of 2022 with a rare neurological disorder. It’s called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy,” Davis explained.
Otherwise known as PSP, this brain disorder affects movement, vision, speech, balance, and cognition. Blades was up against something serious and quickly realized the impact of his situation moving forward.
“That day, he said, ‘You know, in all of my years in being around the students, athletes, and everyone that you teach them that life is not a straight line. It is ups and downs, and you will have to overcome things.’ So that day with himself and as a couple, we had decided that we had to practice what we preach,” Davis shared.
PSP didn’t stop Rick’s ability to impact lives or, in this case, bring back a memory of a former athlete.
“Rick and I were in Abilene visiting the doctor that day and came in contact with her, and she remembered 30-something years ago of Rick taking care of her at a track meet. She spent time out of her time that day to stop and tell him how much she appreciated that,” Davis recalled.
Despite having a not-yet-curable brain disorder, Thursdays and Fridays were still gamedays. Even in his final days, Blades had a specific request for his wife.
“He informed me do not plan anything in remembrance of me, whether it’s a funeral or anything not on a Thursday or Friday night because that is gameday,” Davis said.
On Saturday, August 26, before Blades took his last breath, the care of the student-athletes was still on his mind.
“Finally, at about 10:56, I said to him that the kids were finishing up in the training room, and they’re going to eat lunch and come back and watch film like they always do on Saturday,” Davis shared. “I just told him you’ve had a hardball game. It’s getting to the end. Everybody is taken care of. He knew it, and that was his last breath because it had been his life all of those years, 50 years. What else can you expect?”