By Carly DePhillips
She picks up the circular ball, rubbing her fingertips back and forth over the stitching. Her cleats dig into the brown, sandy mound. Her green eyes stare at her catcher’s oversized, leather mitt, which is about to receive the ball blasting through the sky at 70 miles per hour. She is beginning to wind up and attempt to strike out her opponent.
Sounds like a scene from a softball game, right? Wrong.
It is a scene from a baseball game that a 13-year-old African American girl is taking part in. Not only is she just taking part in the game, but is leading her team to victory and at the same time, is capturing the attention of thousands throughout the nation.
But baseball is for boys and softball is for girls, one might argue. However, Mo’ne Davis might have to object to that statement, as she was the first African-American girl to ever play in the Little League World Series. In addition, (as if that weren’t a big enough accomplishment), Davis was the first female ever to earn a win and also pitch a shutout. “Throwing 70 mph — THAT’S throwing like a girl,” Mo’ne says.
In 2014, Times Magazine dubbed Mo’ne Davis the number one most influential and there is no denying that Davis was best suited for this award. Her motivation, modesties, humbleness and positivity were all key characteristics that contributed to crowning her as the most influential teen. She tells Sports Illustrated, “I don’t really like all the attention, because it feels like everything is about winning and they don’t see the whole picture of my teammates and without my teammates, I don’t think we’d be here right now.”
In the summer of 2014, Mo’ne Davis caught the eyes of every person tuning into the Little League World Series. Everyone was rather surprised not only to see a girl standing on the pitching mound, but to see her striking out boy, after boy, after boy. The young, Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons player shocked the country with her incredible athletic ability, causing thousands to eagerly watch her play all summer long. “I’ve seen girls play, but never a pitcher. She puts other pitchers to shame,” spectator Walle Arrezola says. Her flair brought along success for not only her and her teammates, but ESPN as well, as the semifinal game brought in a record-breaking 3.4 overnight rating.
The accolades in Davis’ name were incessant. Tweets from Little Wayne, Mike Trout, Marcus Stroman and Kevin Durant were sent out commending her outstanding capability. Davis starred on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Eminent people such as Michelle Obama, Ellen DeGeneres and Billie Jean King have noticed her. One of Davis’ largest commendations was being on the cover of Sport’s Illustrated, and having a full article written about her, entitled “Remember Her Name.” This increased her recognition rapidly since she was the first-ever Little League Baseball Player to appear on the front cover of a US sports magazine. “A girl on the cover of Sports Illustrated for her prowess in a man’s sport,” cheered “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville. “Mo’ne is wowing not just the sports world but all of us!” To say the least, Mo’ne Davis truly has a knack for breaking records.
Part of the reason Davis received so much praise and admiration was because many were shocked to see her playing with all boys. However, Davis was used to that by now, since playing with boys was one of the ways she began her career.
It all started on the Marian Anderson Recreation field, where Mo’ne Davis and her breathtaking athleticism were discovered. She was playing football on the field with her cousin, older brother and neighborhood friends. Even then, her talent was impossible of going unnoticed. According to Steve Bandura, the man who witnessed this all happening, “Mo’ne was throwing effortless spiral after spiral. Chasing them, running them down and tackling them — fearlessly.” Bandura approached Davis and invited her to come to the upcoming boys basketball practice, and so, she did. “I just watched her eyes study what was going on and process what was going on. On her turn, she could do it like she had been doing it her whole life. It was just amazing,” Bandura said.
Mo’ne has surely developed and changed from the young girl she was once was on the Marian Anderson Recreation field, but one thing that certainly has not changed, is her athletic aptitude.
Davis is a role model for all, especially for young girls. “I never thought at the age of 13 I’d be a role model, but having young girls look up to me is pretty cool,” Davis says. “If I can inspire them to reach their goals, that would be even cooler.”
Recently, Davis teamed up with Make A Difference Every day (M4D3) to release a new sneaker line. The sneaker is a representation of who she is and what she likes. The sneakers are priced reasonably low at $75 because Davis wants girls who can’t afford overly priced sneakers to have a better chance of sparing the cost of her sneakers. Additionally, 15% of the proceeds go to Plan International’s “Because I Am a Girl: initiative, which supports girls living in pauperism.
Mo’ne Davis has all the odds against her and is inspiring her fans to do the same. “Follow your dream,” she told ESPN. “Follow your dream and don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do something.”