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Posted 01 Apr 2001   For week ended March 30, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 27Mar01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Mission May Keep Athlete from Playing in Division I

WASHINGTON DC -- Serving an LDS mission has become common enough in NCAA athletics that most LDS athletes will return from a mission to play on their college team. But for LDS high school student Mark Davis, serving an LDS mission probably means giving up the chance to play on an NCAA Division I team ever. The source of Davis' difficulty isn't is ability, its the sport he plays.

Mark Davis is one of the best lacrosse players in the Washington DC area. He started all four years that he attended Bullis High School and has become the school's all-time leading scorer, recording 105 goals and 68 assists through the first game of this, his final high school season. Even rival St. Albans High School coach Malcom Lester says Davis is among the best offensive players in the region.

But Davis and his coach, Mike DelGrande, can't get interest in him from Division I schools, in part because he plans to leave this summer to serve an LDS mission. Only one school, the Naval Academy, has actively recruited him. "We recruited him, and he is a good player, " says Navy Coach Richie Meade.

Navy even has experience with returned missionaries, both in lacrosse and in other areas. Current junior defenseman Phil Emery is on the lacrosse team while Davis' cousin, J. C. Davis, has played two years for Navy and will return to the team after he completes an LDS mission. Other Division I lacrosse schools also have players that have served LDS missions, usually after they played a year however.

But while Navy wanted Davis to come after his mission, they would require Davis to take a year of coursework elsewhere before entering the academy. Since Davis is already a year older than his high school teammates (an injury forced him to repeat the fourth grade), Davis turned Navy down, not wanting to be a 22-year-old plebe.

Out of options, Davis now plans to attend BYU following his mission and join BYU's club team in lacrosse. "I always though I did not want to go to BYU, that I wanted to go somewhere to play [Division I] lacrosse. I wish maybe I had gotten more calls from coaches," he laments. Still Navy's Meade suggests that Davis has reason to hope, "BYU has a great club team, they flew down here and played our junior varsity team a couple of years ago. Maybe in two years he would get some interest from colleges and could try again."

Meanwhile Davis, who hasn't yet received his call (he turns 19 in April), is looking forward to serving a mission. "I am really looking forward to my mission. Everyone tells me how awesome it is." He even understands that missions are sometimes dangerous, "It can be dangerous. I know my brother was robbed at knife-point when he was on his mission in Detroit. But I am not worried about the danger. It is going to be awesome."

Davis' attitude and decision has found an admirer in Meade, "That this young man would choose the difficult path, that he has those intangible qualities in his character, it speaks volumes about who he is and who he will eventually become. He made a tough decision, especially given the environment i which most kids are brought up these days. He should be applauded."


A Road Less Traveled
Washington Post pgD07 27Mar01 S2
By Christian Swezey: Washington Post Staff Writer


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