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Davis finds her niche on the pitch; signs on with Coker

Posted: May 24, 2018 11:57 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

NORTH CENTRAL’S ROANA DAVIS SIGNED a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and soccer-playing pursuits at Coker College while flanked by, from left, her brother-in-law, James Hall, her sister, Brittany Bass, her mother, Patricia Bass, and her sister, Summer Hayes. The back row includes North Central athletic director, Tyronne Drakeford, NC head girls’ soccer coach Jeremy King, NC assistant soccer coach Megan Skinner and NC assistant athletic director Christy Holley.

Having been a cheerleader and also playing volleyball, Roana Davis was not looking for a new sport as she was preparing to enter her freshman year at North Central High School, especially one which was foreign to her.

At the urging of a friend who was looking for someone she knew to try out for the new girls’ soccer program at the school with her, Davis accepted the offer. Four years later, the NCHS senior defensive player/goalkeeper signed a National Letter of Intent with the Coker College women’s soccer program.

Surrounded by family, friends, coaches and teammates, Davis was all smiles following the signing ceremony held inside the North Central gymnasium as she recounted her start in soccer.

“It was my eighth-grade year, when we first had a soccer team. My friend, Jasmine, said, ‘Why don’t you come and try out with me.’ I tried out and just loved it,” Davis said.

“I knew absolutely nothing about soccer. I was brand new to it … I was lost.”

Davis got up to speed quickly and by her senior campaign, she had caught the eye of the Coker staff. Given the fact that she was eyeing the Hartsville school as a college destination, being able to play soccer for the Cobras was the icing on the cake when it came time for her to make her decision as to where she would spend her college years.

“It always interested me. I want to study psychology there,” she said of Coker. “Honestly, in soccer, my senior year was probably my best year. I was sad to see it end so, I figured why not try to play in college.”

Davis became the second Lady Knight to sign to play soccer in college. Former teammate Jessica Rutherford is a rising sophomore who plays at USC-Lancaster.

North Central soccer coach Jeremey King said that Davis should fit in well at Coker.

“She’s a real good team player and she was one of our co-captains in a few of our games,” he said. “She’s a good leader on the field. I think she will be a great addition for Coker.”

Before she became a leader on the field, Davis said that she had to get used to the running element of soccer, which was something new to her.  “It was a lot of work,” she said of her new sports endeavor. “I’m not a runner but I got used to everything. It was a family. (Our team) was just like a family.”

It was King who made the decision, during the course of the past season, to move Davis from her position on defense and place his senior leader between the posts as the Lady Knights’ goalkeeper. It was a shift which paid dividends for both the team and for Davis.

In Davis, King said, he found a player who had the right attitude to play as the team’s last line of defense.

“As a defender,” King said, “Roana was real smart and she knew where the ball was going to be and where to put it. She knew when to attack and when not to attack.

“As a goalkeeper, she was very aggressive and was not afraid to go after the ball and she wasn’t afraid to get dirty which is always good. You can’t be scared to fall down back there … that’s half of what you do at that (goalkeeper) position.”

Davis said she enjoys being the stopper on defense and hopes to stay there for first-year Coker head coach Thom Jones. “I like goalie,” Davis said. “It was something new and nobody did it except me. I stood out more.”

“I think she’s an excellent goalkeeper but I’m not sure where they are going to use her at Coker,” King said. “Wherever they put her, she’ll fit right in on the field.”

While she was alone in front of the net, Davis said the 2018 Lady Knights, who finished by winning two of their final three matches, came together as a cohesive unit as the season went along. “It was just the teamwork and how everybody jelled with each other. We all learned to grow with each other,” she said of her fondest remembrance of her final campaign in Boonetown.

While not knowing where she will play at Coker, Davis said she hopes Jones will keep her in goal as. By season’s end at NC, she was more comfortable with her new post on the field. If she can continue at goalkeeper it will help her make a smooth transition to college soccer and Coker, in general.

Davis admitted, with a smile, that she is more than a tad nervous about college and, playing soccer at Coker, in general.

“I’m very nervous about the whole thing. Having soccer to go with it makes me even more nervous,” she said with a laugh when asked about the future. 

“The amount of effort that we are all going to have to put in will be more than it was in high school. I’ll also be playing with all new people so, I’ll have to come out of my shell, a lot.”

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