When Julia Davis was in the fourth grade, she was like any other active kid, trying out a variety of sports. Davis’ mom, Tania, mentioned field hockey to her after Tania had gotten wind of the sport after hearing about it from a friend. Despite its growing popularity, few kids on the West Coast start playing field hockey at an early age, especially eight years ago when Davis was a fourth-grader.
“I was trying different sports and this one stuck,” Davis said.
Has it ever. Davis, a Christopher High senior, recently signed a letter of intent to play at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), a Division II program. In doing so, Davis became the first Christopher High field hockey player to sign a scholarship straight out of high school.
“It’s an honor,” said Davis, a center midfielder who won co-Most Valuable Player honors this past season for the Pacific Coast League’s Gabilan Division. “It was exciting just being able to share that moment with my family. I knew I wanted to do something more after high school, and I knew this was possible since my sophomore year.”
In a ceremony signing at Christopher High Wednesday, Cougars coach Dani Hemeon noted Davis’ work ethic and willingness to do something most athletes—besides the running sports—try to abstain from.
“There are times I would ask the girls if any of them wanted to run, and she takes me up on it,” Hemeon said.
The 5-foot-11 Davis has come a long way from being the shy freshman who wasn’t even sure if she would make the junior varsity team in tryouts. Davis’ nerves were quelled once she got to know Hemeon, whose positive outlook and affability made players like Davis feel welcomed immediately.
“In the first practice, she calmed me down with her welcoming personality,” Davis said. “She was funny and told me about where she played in college at Iowa. I thought that was really cool and I knew I wanted to be like her.”
Davis deserves plaudits for being proactive in the recruiting process. IUP doesn’t actually travel to the West Coast to scout for prospective prospects, as in-state players from Pennsylvania dominate the majority of its roster. Davis sent an email to IUP, which replied in relatively quick fashion. From there, Davis attended an IUP camp last April, where Davis displayed her skills, worked with different players and took part in a couple of scrimmages. A week after taking part in the camp, IUP contacted Davis to let her know they were interested in getting her to be a part of the program.
“I was nervous of course, but I think I did pretty good,” she said. “He (IUP coach Gary Agard) said he liked my attitude, skills and that I was able to see the field and was a team player.”
When Davis was doing research on colleges, she liked IUP’s location, the campus and the area around it.
“I liked that it was far away, that I’d be trying something new,” Davis said.
In addition to her parents, Tim and Tania, and Hemeon, Davis credited coach Tina Perrot as being a great and positive influence in her life.
“She made me have hope that I could play after high school,” Davis said. “She took me in and taught me the whole recruiting process, and actually helped me get that first email from a college coach.”
Davis is one of five children, with two older brothers and two younger sisters. Growing up, Davis’ brothers didn’t take it easy on her when they played sports together, a fact she didn’t quite appreciate in the moment but something she appreciates now.
“They were kind of rough and they made me cry at times, but it was good,” she said. “I had to be competitive and be stronger going against them at an early age.”