Each week during a home series OhioStateBuckeyes.com will talk with a selected member of the women’s hockey team. This week get to know senior co-captain Rachel Davis. The defenseman from Horton, Mich., discusses the discipline of being both a student and athlete as well as what it takes to be a good leader.
Over the last two years, you’ve become very focused on the various areas it takes to become a well-rounded athlete, in regards to nutrition and off-ice training. How have you seen that pay off?
Well, I lost a lot of weight and I’ve noticed that instead of being completely gassed in the third period, I’m still ready to go. I feel like I’m playing in the first period. I just feel better about myself in general. I feel like I am an athlete rather than I’m trying every day to be an athlete.
Was there was a specific turning point?
Yes, after my sophomore year I realized that if I didn’t change what I was doing then I wouldn’t improve anymore and I knew I could do so much more. That’s when I decided to change my eating habits and workout habits.
Was it hard with the initial lifestyle change?
Huge. I thought it was OK to have a midnight snack and not workout. The first couple of weeks I thought I was going to die with the running and the eating. But eventually my body realized ‘Oh, this is good for you,’ and it got better after that.
Because you were already an athlete, were you relying on that before making the changes? You were still exercising at practice every day.
It was one of those things where I thought, ‘Well, you’re an athlete so you’re in shape.’ Well, I was probably more in shape than the average person, but compared to being a college-level athlete I was very out of shape. So I turned it all around and realized I have to put myself up against higher standards than just the average person.
Has it helped you with any other areas in your hockey game besides endurance?
Definitely endurance, but I’m also faster. My feet are quicker and I make faster decisions (on the ice) because I can actually do the things I couldn’t two years ago.
Did it click at that time too that you were going to be one of the mainstays on the defense, so you had to step it up?
We had some huge defensemen when I was a freshman and sophomore – Tessa (Bonhomme), (Amber) Bowman, (Lacey) Schultz – they were huge D and we could always rely on them at the end of the game. And I realized they were gone. Jackie told me I would have to step up my game, and it was a pressure thing for me. I had to step it up and do it myself rather than rely on other people. Which was kind of scary [laughing].
Have you seen other players on the team use you as an example?
Definitely, because a lot of players come in with the same attitude I did. They think, ‘I am an athlete. I was great on my high school or club team.’ They come in and they don’t realize what they are doing wrong and thinking ‘Why am I not playing? Why am I not getting results?’ They realize you have to raise your standards a little bit and meet those. It’s a reality check and it’s hard at first because you have to put in so much work, but it really pays off in the end.
The “student” part of student-athlete you also have excelled at during your career here. Have you always been a studious person?
Yes because my family has always put school before anything. I’ve always carried that with me. Go to class and get the work done. It’s probably the least fun thing about college, but you realize you’re doing this for your future and for your life so it’s worth with work.
Does it come easy for you?
Coming to college I didn’t think it would be a big deal because I thought I was a good student and then I realized what was actually in store. But really it just takes a few changes and developing study habits. You’re on your own and after a while you get into a routine, but it takes a good quarter to get used to it.
Do you find that your senior class sets a tone for the team this year as far as academics go?
When you look at Rocky (Raelyn LaRocque) and me, we have 3.5-ish GPAs. We’re trying hard, but we’re not getting the best grades so teammates think, ‘Oh, that’s reachable. I’m not going to be a 4.0 student, but I know I can at least do this.’
You’re going into middle childhood education, why that age?
It’s fourth through ninth grade. I wanted to get an age group where they have a sense of humor but before they think they own everything. So around fifth grade would be ideal, but anything around that would be great.
Do you have a lot of teachers in your family?
Yes, my aunt was a fifth-grade teacher for 30 years or so and my mom teaches nursing. She was a delivery nurse and then she got into teaching fundamentals of nursing. My dad always stressed family first, but second was school. I guess it kind of developed where I wanted to be involved with school in some way. And as a teacher, your classroom is kind of your family.
You and Rocky have been two of the best captains in Ohio State history. What do you think it takes to be a good leader?
The attitude. There are three types of captains you can have – two of them bad, one is good. One of them is “my way or the highway” attitude, where you do what I say and there is no other way around it. It’s terrible to do because people aren’t going to listen to you after a while. The second is “I don’t care, do what you want” and that’s not good either because then they are never going to listen because they feel like you aren’t concerned about anything. The other one is a mixture of the two – this is what we think we should do, but let’s discuss it and come to a conclusion.
I think Rocky and I work well together because I’m more of the side of “this is what we should do” and she’s the kind of person who wants to give a little more freedom. We bounce it back and forth to come to a meet in the middle.
It seems like you two have always worked together well.
Ever since the beginning, if I’m really angry or really intense, she’ll be really calm. And when she gets crazy and intense, I tell her to relax. We’ve always worked really well together.
What is your favorite song to get you pumped up before the game?
Whatever is playing in the locker room. I’m not a huge playlist, set-list person. Sometimes it will be a good hard rock song and then sometimes might be a slow Disney song getting me pumped up. It just depends on the day.
Is there a story behind your number, 27?
I’ve always had the number 7 growing up. Then when I switched to girls hockey, my best friend had the number 7 and I asked her for it, but she wouldn’t give it up. So I switched to 77. When I came here I didn’t want to go to 7 because I had already moved on, I guess, so I asked Jackie for 77 but she said nothing past 40. So I got upset and it took me a while, but I wanted something with sevens so I came up with “two-sevens” or 27.
Do you have any superstitions?
I’m kind of a “knock on wood” person so if someone tells me I’m playing well I make sure I knock on wood. I’ll get dressed the same way, but nothing other than that. I used to be really superstitious, but then I realized it’s ridiculous so I stopped. Like when I was little and driving with my mom I used to always have the volume set on an even number.
How do you get warmed up for the game?
Usually before the game I’ll get in the locker room and have my cup of coffee. And then I’ll get changed and tape my stick. Maybe do some stretching, or I’ll play “keep up” with some of the girls if I feel like it. But usually I just sit there. I don’t want to get too geeked up. And then we do our dynamic warm-up as a team. Boring I know.
Who is the most influential person in our hockey career?
Well, there are too many to mention. I will group my entire family as one. Each one has taught me something really great about hockey. My mom and dad – never quit, always keep going. My brother – the intensity of the game. My other brother – he is probably the best skater of the family so I took after him in that. My sister – she has no fear and will try anything once. And then one of my coaches, Scott Conway, took me after another coach cut me because I was a girl. He invited me on to his team, told me to come join them. He taught me a lot.