13 year-old mo'ne davis on monday was named female athlete of the year by the associated press. the award is voted on by news directors and u.s. editors, and davis became the youngest winner in history. she beat out mount saint joseph freshman lauren hill - who played her first college basketball game while battling terminal cancer - and 18-time major tennis champion serena williams.
davis tossed a two-hitter to help philadelphia beat nashville 4-0 in the little league world series opener for both teams. davis, the first girl to play for a u.s. team in south williamsport since 2004, had eight strikeouts and no walks. her team was later eliminated after losing to teams from las vegas and chicago. but that was only the beginning...
davis appeared on the cover of sports illustrated. her jersey is displayed in baseball's hall of fame and was named sports kid of the year by sports illustrated kids. she met the obamas at the white house, starred in a spike lee directed car commercial (the ncaa said it wouldn't hurt her eligibility), marched in the macy's thanksgiving day parade with her teammates, and presented soul train's song of the year award to pharell williams.
the personable teenager is a gifted three-sport athlete. just an eighth-grader, davis is a point guard for her high school varsity basketball team, and plays soccer. also, she's an honor student who handled the media attention with grace, maturity and poise. she said, "a lot of adults around me help me out, taught me to be respectful, to be calm during everything and not let anything get to you."
davis hurled whiffle balls to jimmy fallon on nbc's tonight show, threw out the first pitch at game four of the world series, and signed a book deal. "it's been really fun, got to do a lot of things, meet a lot of cool people," she said. "my favorite thing to do was playing in williamsport or going to the white house. the obamas just seemed like a regular couple, no different from anyone else," davis said.
while most folks still talk about her baseball feats, davis concentrates on basketball. "it's making me a lot better, helping me make decisions. in middle school i can get away with small things. the girls now are a lot taller so i'm working on my jump shot and ball handling a lot." she aspires to play for the university of connecticut, and, eventually, the wnba.
steve bandura, a recreation leader for the philadelphia parks and recreation department, and director of the anderson monarchs sports programs, has helped coach davis since she started playing sports. his son, scott, was the catcher for the taney dragons - their now-famous little league team. bandura says davis has maintained her "natural personality" with the celebrity status and media onslaught.
"she's still the same person, still a kid who wants to do kid things. she has fun meeting celebrities and all that but the bottom line is she loves to play sports, go to school and have fun. the adults make a bigger deal out of it. her teammates understand she's breaking down barriers and they're proud of her. they've been together so long, it's like she's their sister," bandura said.
on the pitching mound, davis embodied the confidence of a veteran. her demeanor, focus and presence delighted baseball fans young and old from all walks of life. davis is clearly aware of her newfound place in society as a role model. her message to people - especially girls: "always follow your dreams. if there's something people tell you that you can't do it, go for it."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.