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Extra coaching in offseason pays off for Trojans athlete

<p>Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Senior Mikayla Davis started her volleyball career late for the Trojans in her sophomore year and made varsity her junior year.</p>

Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Senior Mikayla Davis started her volleyball career late for the Trojans in her sophomore year and made varsity her junior year.

<p>Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Senior Mikayla Davis, No. 5, is seen in action. Prior to her sophomore year she had no idea what volleyball was. She learned quickly though, and she worked hard and now is the starting middle blocker.</p>

Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Senior Mikayla Davis, No. 5, is seen in action. Prior to her sophomore year she had no idea what volleyball was. She learned quickly though, and she worked hard and now is the starting middle blocker.

Not all great athletes start when they are in grade school. Some get off to a slow start. Senior volleyball player and high jumper Mikayla Davis is one who had a late start to her athletic career. She started track in middle school and volleyball in her sophomore year in high school.

Volleyball came to Davis through track. As a high jumper, her coach Ed Kirkwood was her jump coach in her sophomore year. Kirkwood also coaches junior varsity volleyball for the Trojans and he recognized her physical abilities might help the team at the net.

“It was my first year coaching the jumps,” Kirkwood said. “She has the build for volleyball and she is very light on her feet. So I asked her, ‘have you ever thought about volleyball?’ and she said, ‘I never thought about that coach.’ I told her she would be good at the spikes and the blocking because of her jumping ability. She told me she would think about it and the next thing I know she was playing and then getting a trainer.”

Davis is a very outgoing person and starting a new sport at a fairly new school didn’t bother her.

“When I started playing volleyball, I knew nothing about it,” Davis said. “I don’t think I had ever seen a game. When I am not really good at the sport I really don’t even like it, so that first season was really hard. I was not good at it and I didn’t know what I was doing. I basically sat on the bench that season on JV. Sometimes I would move down and play on the B team to get some playing time. One of the reasons I worked so hard during the summer is because I don’t like being not good at something. I wanted to make myself better.”

During her first year her mother pushed her to get better. Her athleticism kicked in and she never gave up.

Davis hated the fact she sat on the bench and motivated herself to get a volleyball coach to help her improve during the summer before her junior year. The extra coaching helped. She made the varsity team her junior year. Now, volleyball is her favorite sport.

“It is my favorite because it really is easy to connect with the team and we are all really good friends. The games and stuff are all a lot of fun,” she said. “I would like to go to college and play volleyball but if it does not work out, I will concentrate on my academics.”

Once in college, Davis hopes to major in the veterinary sciences or she might even become a trauma doctor.

For the Trojans volleyball team, Davis is now firmly set as a middle blocker.

“I like the blocking aspect more because when someone hits it and it smashes right down — it feels good,” the Trojans blocker said.

The extra coaching has given her the confidence to play the sport and have fun with it. She said it was just the right amount of confidence too, which she takes with her every time she steps onto the court.

Her other love is track. For the past year the high jumper has been stuck at 4 feet 11 inches. All last year Davis couldn’t get over that height. She feels she needs a special coach to get her through it — just a little work on her form to give her the extra boost needed to break the 4-11 barrier.

She met track coach Randall Cunningham, the former NFL football player at the urging of other coaches. Davis said Cunningham had been watching her at a meet told her to call him for some help.

“In November I am going to start training with Randall Cunningham for the high jump. Hopefully, he will help me break 4-11 because I have been stuck there for some time now. I think I have the ability to get up there. I think my form just needs a lot of work,” she said.

In her off time, Davis prefers outdoor activities, but when the weather is bad she will curl up to a good book.

Davis is very articulate when she speaks. She says she probably gets this from the books she reads. Her father started her reading classic books at young age, such as “To Kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee.

She said the popular book series like Harry Potter and Hunger Games just don’t do anything for her.

“I am not able to get into them as easy … I feel the story is there, but I don’t feel the substance of what makes a good book is there. My father always makes sure I am reading good quality literature. I really love it. All the books he gives me are awesome,” Davis said.

Her favorite book now is “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. The author wrote the book in 1957.

She is definitely not the romance novel type.

“I find romantic books boring. I find them intensely boring. I feel most of the plots are the same so if you read one you have read them all,” she said.