Last spring, surrounded by her family, Charlie the Charger, and the entire Oakcrest community, Etta Davis picked up a pen and signed her name to a piece of paper, committing to play lacrosse at the Coast Guard Academy. In effect it was the end of her stellar career as an Oakcrest athlete and the beginning of many exciting new challenges.
Davis is a strong all-around athlete who competed in varsity cross country, basketball, and volleyball during high school. But her real love was lacrosse, and she spread that love to her schoolmates. Together with Anna Noone ’18, Davis was the “driving force” behind the Oakcrest lacrosse program, says Coach Michele Bulger. They petitioned persistently for a team until it formed in 2013. The members of that first team voted her captain; she was in 8th grade.
“Even at that young age, Etta was really skilled, really knowledgeable,” says Bulger, “and very aware of how she could help her teammates. She was invested in building the players around her.” She often invited teammates to her house for extra practice, and Bulger noticed significant improvement in players who put in time at Training Camp Davis.
“Her love and enthusiasm for the sport is infectious,” says Bulger, “and … encouraged and inspired others to learn the game of lacrosse.” One teammate dubbed her “The Glue That Holds Our Team Together,” while another bestowed a more simple title: “Lacrosse Goddess.”
Davis served as team captain until she graduated, and consistently led the team in goals, assists, defensive plays, and ground balls. The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association named her Second Team All-State in 2015 (Oakcrest’s first year competing in the league) and First Team All-State in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, she was chosen as one of U.S. Lacrosse’s 28 All-American high school players in the Potomac region.
Her skills with a stick will serve Davis well at the Academy, but her leadership skills will be even more important. Her Oakcrest basketball coach, Annie Smith, notes, “Etta was really good at motivating the girls and getting them to work hard while keeping a positive attitude. She was great at leading by example.” Bulger appreciated the way she led the rest of the lacrosse team in making new, inexperienced players feel welcome and valued.
She has already shown these qualities during Swab Summer, the cadets’ seven-week training program before they begin their first school year. When her roommate couldn’t do push-ups to the satisfaction of the cadre (the upperclassmen who run Swab Summer), Etta did push-ups for her. “The Coast Guard is all about teamwork,” Etta’s mother, Becka Davis, explains. “On a boat everyone needs to work together.” Davis was also named “Super Swab” of her platoon and carried the guidon, or unit flag. This duty is an honor recognizing swabs who lead by encouraging other swabs to keep going, says Becka Davis.
Ahead are four years of studying, playing lacrosse, and training as a military officer, and then at least five years on active duty. Davis plans to study biochemistry and dreams of flying helicopters for the Coast Guard. She’s well on her way.