Former Athlete of the Year working towards nursing degree


Wendy Alexander/Madera Tribune File Photo Coyote softball and volleyball player Mariah Davis holds her Madera High School Senior Athlete of the Year award in 2014 with her two coaches — Robyn Keune (volleyball), left, and Judy Shaubach (softball).

 

When Mariah Davis was a senior at Madera High School, it was such a given she was the best female athlete at the school that then MHS athletics director Shane Riddle didn’t even have any finalists for the Female Athlete of the Year award in 2014.

It was just Davis and no one else.

Davis earned many other awards that year, as well. She was the Madera F.A.N. Kenny Taylor Athlete of Integrity, she represented the County/Metro Athletic Conference at the Central Sentral Scholar/Athlete awards dinner. In addition, she was a three-time Madera Tribune Softball Most Valuable Player and was on the All-Madera Tribune team all four years.

Davis has lived up to that potential ever since. She played softball for Bethune Cookman University and was a four-year starter. She graduated in May of 2018 with a biology degree and then returned home give back to the community.

“Hopefully, there will be more schools,” Davis said. “I’m trying to get into a nursing program to explore more avenues. It’s a little bit different with by situation and the degree I got. When I was in college, I couldn’t do nursing because of softball. Now, to get into nursing, there’s different avenues and different requirements. I’m trying to figure out what schools work best for me, the requirements I should take and what schools to shoot for.”

Currently, Davis works for Madera Community Hospital working in admitting.

“There’s a pandemic so I’m not trying to do too much,” she said. “It’s good for me even though I don’t want to be in the emergency room. I want to work with kids. It gives me a good sense of what goes on in nursing. I get to see a lot of behind the scenes in nursing. I get to see real life. I get first-hand help with questions. The nurses have no problem explaining things to me. I’m hands-on, but not hands-on. I get to see a lot and experience a lot. I have people with experience to help me with questions I have.”

She hopes that with her experience in the field and in the classroom will translate to a nursing degree.

“I don’t think anything will match the biology degree I got with everything I went through,” she said. “That was pretty difficult. It may be easier to get into, but it’s different. I felt like in college, I was the only one with classes. Everyone else was doing online and sleeping in. I was the only one with 8 a.m. classes everyday.”

With the pandemic, Davis has put her family even more in the forefront, making sure they are safe.

“I’m more worried for my family than me.” she said. “My grandpa is sick. I don’t get to see him. When I get to see him, it’s in the back of my head because I’m around it all the time. I have a new baby sister that was born early so I had to be extra careful. I have my other siblings that I worry about. When we first got it, it was serious. Then, I got to see behind the scenes of the symptoms people are having. It makes me want to be extra careful. I want to be better as far as hand washing and wearing masks. I thought I was good before, but now I’m on it 1,000 times more.”

After Davis graduated from BCU, she returned home and had a chance to watch her sister play softball during her junior season for the Coyotes and missed the sport.

“Last year, I missed softball and everything about it,” she said. “This year, it was hard to say. There was no softball going on and you can’t miss something that’s not going on. I can’t watch it or can’t see it. The first year out, I missed it a ton. I missed being a part of the team atmosphere and the college experience. The playing part, I missed it, but I felt like I missed it more when I was watching. I don’t get that this year because we didn’t have softball this year.”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic ended Joslynn Davis’ senior season 12 games in and Mariah wasn’t able to watch her play this year.

“I missed that,” she said.

Fortunately, Joslynn earned a softball scholarship to also play at BCU and follow in her sister’s footsteps.

“It’s so cool Joslynn is going to Bethune,” Mariah said. “People ask me if it was a footsteps thing, but I really don’t. Joslynn has created her own path. We have different experience. We’re going to have different experience in college because we have different personalities. It’s really exciting because I have insight. My coach saw Joslynn when she was really little. It’s cool to see it in the family.

“I’m the sister watching now. I don’t mind that. I’m excited because I can take trips to Florida. Watching my sister play at that level is going cool because I think she will come into her own when she goes to college. She’s going to be on her own. I think she will be the player she was meant to be. The only person that can push her is herself. I think she will succeed and learn a lot of lessons.”

Also, Davis said that her college gear doesn’t have to stay in the closet gaining mothballs.

“I can keep my Bethune gear and hat when I go visit her,” she said. “She’s going to start out in the outfield and set a tone. She’s really good offensively, but she is better defensively. She is 1,000 times better defensively than I ever was.”

Davis can’t believe that she graduated from MHS more than six years ago and she says time seems to have flown by.

“I can’t believe it’s been six years,” she said. “I thought college was going to take forever. Then, time just flies by. I think it flew by because I was always busy. There was never a time where I got a break, maybe even summer. But then, you still have to work out and condition. I’m lazy and I can sleep. If I don’t keep myself busy, I can sleep.”

However, Davis knows that softball gave her the life lessons she needed to be able to succeed at what she was doing in the classroom and on the field.

“It teaches you more life lessons,” she said. “When you’re young, you don’t think about those sacrifices. It taught me to be independent and also the value of things I had at home. Now that I’m home, I have a greater appreciation of family time and the meal my mom makes for me that in high school, I said I was tired of. You miss those kind of things.

“I’ve never reflected about my life without softball because I don’t really know a life without it. I know it has taken me places and given me opportunities that I would have never been given if I didn’t play softball. It had to do with working hard, putting the pressure on and making sacrifices. Without that, I would have never gotten these opportunities.”

One of the things that Davis hopes her sister has at BCU is a great roommate. Davis said she doesn’t know how she would have gotten through that first year without her.

“I had a great roommate,” she said. “We are kind of the same people We are both family oriented. She helped with the homesick. She was the closest thing to family I had. When I went on my visit, I didn’t know how it was going to work because I’m so loud and outgoing and she was quiet and shy. We hit it off. Our parents left and all we had was each other.

“It was a such a family at Bethune. The good thing about the coach at Bethune is she recruits a lot of out-of-state players. Everyone you are playing with are away from home. When I played, everyone was from California. Now she has expanded. You are not alone and have people there going through the same feelings. People get homesick. It’s just a given. I was homesick during my freshman year. It was a realization thing that I’m away from home. It was my first Thanksgiving away from home. Even my first birthday away, I was sad. I was with my friends, but I really missed my family.”

In looking back, Davis can literally pinpoint the time when her life changed for the better. It occurred early during her freshman season with the Coyotes’ softball team.

“I remember at the Buchanan Tournament that (head coach Judy) Shaubach told me to hit from the left side and bunt,” Davis said. “She was on the bench relaxing and told me to hit from the left side. It was a game changer. I really had no idea that I would have become the player I was if I didn’t switch to the left side. I really don’t know if I would have played in college. I had the work ethic, but I needed it more when I switched to the left side. I was a switch hitter when I was younger, but I hit from the right side when I started high school. I felt more comfortable. It was just another person telling me to hit from the left side and having to work to get better at that, I don’t think I would have even played in college. My career at Madera High was great because I grew up with all of those girls. It was a fun experience. I got to play with the older girls because I had to become a better player. They were all bigger than me and I thought I had to step up my game. We’re fortunate enough at Madera that we have a weight lifting program. When I got to college, I already knew how to squat and things like that. Other girls didn’t because they didn’t have a lifting program in high school. I felt like I was more advanced. I wanted to start and play and this is what I had to do. I was taught by the best. Shaubach is a magician when it comes to slap hitting. She knows everything. When I wasn’t having the best game, she had a quick fix we could practice.”

Looking back at her career, Davis is happy with what she has accomplished.

“I had a great career at both schools,” she said. “I had a great support system at home and at school. I was coached by some of the best in college. Everything I did, I couldn’t do alone. My support system was so strong to keep me going. When I started slap hitting, I did a 360. I was still in the lineup and given opportunities. That’s what made be better. I was thrown in it. I had no choice but to sink or swim.”

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