Mariya Davis, a Westmoore Elementary School seventh grader, is featured as March’s student-athlete spotlight.
Mariya is a volleyball player at Westmoore Elementary School. Only in her second year of playing volleyball, she has come to love the game and has made it a part of her dreams.
“I’m passionate about volleyball, and it brings me joy. The team is like my family,” said Mariya.
Mariya was nominated for the student-athlete spotlight by her teacher and coach Kristin Baptista and assistant coach Shannon Criscoe.
“I have the pleasure of teaching her and coaching her in volleyball,” said Baptista. “She is a hard worker on the court and in the classroom. I can trust her to do the right thing, and her integrity and honesty are impeccable. She makes coaching fun and inspires me as a teacher to come to work every day and teach my heart out.”
Trying out for a sport at a middle school in northern Moore County can be challenging. Westmoore Elementary and Highfalls Elementary are K-8 schools. In every sport, both elementary schools, along with Elise Middle School in Robbins, make up one school team called the North Moore Colts.
“It’s a lot. A lot try out, and there are a lot of cuts, and we have to go to all the schools,” said Mariya.
Forty-eight girls tried out for only 15 open spots this year. Mariya works hard to be one of those 15 players, playing the middle blocker position.
She has only played two seasons of the sport but is already creating memories and friendships.
Looking back on her memories, one has stuck with her the most.
“We were playing New Century Middle School, and it looked like we were going to win, but something happened, and we lost,” said Mariya. “We were all still happy because of the fight we put up.”
“She is always positive whether we have won or lost,” said Criscoe.
Mariya plans to continue her volleyball career next year and then at North Moore the following year. After high school, she would like to play volleyball at N.C. State.
“I can honestly see her playing in college because of her attitude and ability to take direction. She is athletic too,” said Baptista.
Mariya plans to study medicine, and her dream is to be a surgeon.
Outside of volleyball, Mariya is continually on the A/B honor roll. She has been a trombone player in band since the fifth grade. “I love band,” said Mariya. “I like my bandmates, and I like the feeling when we have done a good job.”
She has an older sister, an older brother, and a younger brother.
In her spare time, Mariya enjoys hanging out with her older brother, a three-sport athlete at North Moore. She also attends church regularly in Robbins.
When she isn’t hanging out with family or friends, she watches volleyball, pulling for the University of Texas. Logan Eggleston is her favorite player to watch, who has now graduated and has signed a professional contract to play overseas.
Baptista and Criscoe said Mariya is a team player.
“She always does what I ask to do and goes above and beyond in the classroom and at practice,” added Baptista. “During games, I can look at her and tell her what she is doing wrong, and she will take direction. She’s very coachable. She is a good teammate, positive, and wants to win. She dedicates whatever it takes to win.”
“When coach Baptista texted me asking me about the nomination, we were on the same page — hands down, Mariya,” said Criscoe.
“She stands out from the crowd,” said Baptista.
If you would like to nominate someone for the student-athlete spotlight series, please email Curtis Self at [email protected]
Feature photo: Westmoore Elementary School teacher and head coach Kristin Baptista (left), student Mariya Davis, and assistant coach Shannon Criscoe.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Curtis Self.