Hith­erto un­known Mo’ne Davis wins AP Fe­male Ath­lete of the Year honor

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY ROB MAADDI

No one in the sports world had heard of the 2014 As­so­ci­ated Press Fe­male Ath­lete of the Year un­til Au­gust.

That’s when 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis be­came an in­stant celebrity as she took the pitch­ing mound in base­ball’s Lit­tle League World Se­ries and mowed down bat­ter after bat­ter, giv­ing “throw like a girl” a whole new mean­ing.

She was the first girl to win a Lit­tle League World Se­ries game, and her per­for­mance daz­zled fans young and old. Her steely gaze and de­meanor on the mound were in­tim­i­dat­ing, while off- the- field, she shined in in­ter­views. She told ad­mir­ers that if they thought she was good at base­ball, they should see her play bas­ket­ball. Only in eighth grade, Davis al­ready plays for her school’s high school var­sity bas­ket­ball team.

Davis ap­peared on the cover of Sports Il­lus­trated, has her jersey 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 along with her Taney Dragons team­mates and pre­sented Phar­rell Wil­liams with Soul Train’s “Song of the Year” award.

The tal­ented three- sport star — she also plays soc­cer — and honor stu­dent from South Philadel­phia han­dled all the at­ten­tion with poise, mod­esty and ma­tu­rity.

A vote by U. S. ed­i­tors and news direc­tors se­lected Davis as The As­so­ci­ated Press 2014 Fe­male Ath­lete of the Year. The youngest win­ner in his­tory, Davis beat out Mt. St. Joseph fresh­man Lau­ren Hill — who played her first col­lege bas­ket­ball game while bat­tling ter­mi­nal brain can­cer — and three-time win­ner Serena Wil­liams. The se­lec­tion was an­nounced Mon­day.

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 ap­pear for a U.S. team in South Wil­liamsport since 2004, had eight strike­outs and didn’t walk a bat­ter. Her team was even­tu­ally elim­i­nated after los­ing to teams from Las Ve­gas and Chicago. Davis gave up three runs in the Las Ve­gas game, and could not take the mound against Chicago be­cause of pitch lim­its.

After the tour­na­ment, Davis was ev­ery­where.

She threw whif­fle balls to Jimmy Fal­lon on NBC’s Tonight Show, threw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the World Se­ries and signed a book deal.

While oth­ers are still talk­ing about her Lit­tle League per­for­mance, Davis, a point guard, is con­cen­trat­ing on bas­ket­ball.

“It’s mak­ing me a lot bet­ter, help­ing me make de­ci­sions,” Davis said of play­ing var­sity. “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.”

Davis as­pires to play for the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut and reach the WNBA. She plays mid­fielder on her soc­cer team and hopes to play three sports in high school, though she’s not sure about base­ball.

“I know the boys will be much stronger so that de­pends,” she said. “Hope­fully, I can con­tinue play­ing as long as I can.”

Davis isn’t just a jock. She ex­cels aca­dem­i­cally de­spite such a great de­mand for her time.

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 Taney. Ban­dura said Davis has main­tained her “nat­u­ral per­son­al­ity” no mat­ter how many cam­eras or mi­cro­phones are in her face.

Davis knows she has be­come a role model.

Her mes­sage to ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially girls: “Al­ways follow your dreams. If there’s some­thing peo­ple tell you that you can’t do it, go for it.”

AP

In this Aug. 15 file photo, Penn­syl­va­nia’s Mo’ne Davis de­liv­ers in the fifth in­ning against Ten­nessee dur­ing a base­ball game in United States pool play at the Lit­tle League World Se­ries tour­na­ment in South Wil­liamsport, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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