Mo’ne Davis, One Time Star of LL World Series, Lands at Columbia

As a 13 year-old girl pitching against boys in 2014, Mo’ne Davis was the focus of national fascination as she mowed down rivals as she led her South Philadelphia team all the way to the Little League World Series semi-finals in Williamsport, Pa. Now she’s pursuing a sports management graduate degree at Columbia University.

| 21 Sep 2023 | 01:43

She played the game, now she wants to own it.

Mo’ne Davis, the one time sensation of the Little League World Series has left her baseball glove behind and settled down in New York City, attending an Ivy League school.

After her success as a 12 and 13 year-old girl baseball athlete, Davis continued her sports career in high school, playing not only baseball but basketball, softball, and soccer.

Instead of going pro and skipping out on the college experience, after high school Davis intensively researched the professors, alumni, and curriculum that various universities had to offer.

“During the college process, I always asked myself, ‘Could I see myself at the school if I didn’t play sports?’”

In an interview with Straus News, Davis recalled that she was fortunate when she was coming up as a young star on her travel baseball team, the Monarchs, that school work was always important. “On the Monarchs, we always stressed getting good grades. I always enjoyed school. I still enjoy school. It’s always been a goal of mine since I was younger to get my master’s degree and get as many degrees as I could.”

Davis always had an innate eagerness to learn and explore, a characteristic that Steve Bandura, her youth coach when she played baseball for the Anderson Monarchs–and the person she calls her “second Dad,”–took note of from the first time he met her, not on a baseball diamond, but on a basketball court.

“The first basketball practice we had, we just started drills called the ‘three man weave.’ It’s tough, even the older kids mess it up. Mo showed up and I told her, ‘You don’t have to do it, it’s kinda tricky.’ Bandura recalled in an interview with Straus News. “She said, ‘No, I’ll try it.’ I can still picture her to this day, watching the wheels turning in her head. She did it like she had done it a hundred times. That told me this kid is special.”

While she was a rising star, Bandura said it was never all about winning. “As a coach, the most important lesson I tried to give them is the lesson on life.”

Davis, who still calls him ‘coach’ agrees said he helped her all through the years since. “He cared more about the person than the player. Coach was a part of almost everyone’s college decision.”

Alex Rice, Manager of the Taney Dragons–the team that represented South Philly in the Little League World Series back in 2014–described Davis as “the leader of the team. She was never intimidated.”

The team won its own district and then won the state tournament and advanced to the Middle Atlantic region. “Shortly before she was to pitch against Delaware in the final game of Regionals, winner going to Williamsport, she was taking a nap. Just emotionally collected.” Needless to say, they won and advanced to the World Series tournament where David became the first girl to pitch a shut out in the tournament’s history, tossing a two hit gem and in the process making the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Ultimately, Davis graduated from Hampton University with a journalism degree. Although a Division 1 school, she only played a year of softball during her four years at the private university.

Now, racking up another degree, Davis is accomplishing her dream with the Sport’s Management Master’s Program at Columbia University.

When asked about the change in careers, Davis attributed the beginning of her love and interest for broadcast journalism to Julie Foudy–retired soccer player, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and two-time gold Olympic gold medalist–at an ESPNW Summit in California.

“I was a part of a panel of young women that were stepping into the sports industry as athletes. I was so nervous because there were so many women in sports that were in the audience and having Julie Foudy as a moderator that was kind, cracking jokes, making everyone comfortable, and still being professional inspired me to do the same thing and be on the other side.”

Davis will not be picking up a baseball anytime soon professionally, but “maybe play in a few years in an adult league for some exercise.” Right now she is devoting her time to a newfound passion that her competitive childhood helped her discover.

“I want to be an owner of a women’s soccer or basketball team. This past summer at the WNBA All Star game, the skills competition was at like 3 or 4pm ET. That’s the middle of the day when people are still at work. Why is this not a prime time event?,” she asked.

“I want to give women the attention, facilities to become a better athlete, and resources to become a better person. Also, bringing a women’s professional team to Philadelphia.”

The WNBA features the New York Liberty, but there is still no professional women’s basketball team playing in Philadelphia, one of the most vibrant sports cities in the country. “Growing up I didn’t have a [woman’s] professional team to go to games and see myself as a woman on the court. I want to inspire other little girls that want to be in sports.”

“Growing up I didn’t have a [woman’s] professional team to go to games and see myself as a woman on the court. I want to inspire other little girls that want to be in sports.”