Mikala Davis is a fifth-year goalie for the Westminster College women’s lacrosse team who is in her final year of nursing school. Although Davis’ student-athlete journey started like any typical athlete, it didn’t quite go as she expected.
After three years at Westminster, she was given the opportunity to play at the Division 1 level.
“I was coaching a lacrosse camp, and met some friends who played at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia,” Davis said. “We were messing around one day during our lunch break, and they started shooting on me. They were like, ‘Hey you’re pretty good, you should come play with us!’”
For the 2019-20 season, Davis’ senior year, she transferred to Saint Joseph’s University and played for the D1 program.
“I got an offer from SJU on a Thursday and we were packed and driving to Philadelphia on Saturday,” she said.
Davis’ experience taught her that the biggest differences between the two levels of play are the sheer time commitment in D1, noting that lacrosse came first and that a national championship was the end goal.
“We just had hours and hours of lacrosse a day, and it was the priority,” Davis said. “From team bonding, practice, Sunday film, Saturday film, early morning this, that, and the other — you were there all day, every day.”
After some early-season success, the world changed completely once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The spring season was canceled and Davis was given the opportunity to have another year of eligibility through the NCAA.
Originally, she planned on returning to Westminster anyway to complete her final year in nursing school, but the potential of playing again was an added bonus.
“Within two weeks I was in contact with Niki Harding (Westminster lacrosse coach) saying, ‘Hey, I have an extra year of eligibility,’” Davis said. “I actually got in contact with her to coach, and we were like, ‘Extra year. Might as well play it.’”
Davis’ return was exactly what the Westminster team needed at the time, according to teammates, as they only had one lacrosse goalie in the roster for this upcoming season — which would have made practice and games difficult to approach.
“If Mikala didn’t come back we would only have one,” said fifth-year captain Phebe Walker. “It challenges the goalies to work harder.”
Walker added that Davis’ presence in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) is one that other teams notice and are intimidated by.
“I think with her coming back, it’ll shake up competitors for sure,” Walker said.
Davis said she’s thankful for her team accepting both her exit and return to the Griffins and credits it to the overall attitude of the team.
“I’ve always loved the attitude that everyone has,” Davis said. “If you do everything you can and just try your best, you have a place and will be welcomed.”