By Anja Rosales
In an office located on the third floor of the McLane Student Life Center sits Van Davis, the assistant director of the McLane Student Life Center.
She doesn’t do much sitting these days, however, as she is involved in a number of activities ranging from training top-notch athletes to selling Girl Scout cookies with her niece.
The amount of activities and teams Davis coaches also serve as a place for interviews, life talks and a behind the scenes business for some of her classes and clinics.
Clint Patterson, who works with Davis as the coordinator for fitness at the SLC, said he enjoys working with Davis.
“I absolutely love working with Van,” Patterson said. “She is a great boss who is very committed.” He said Davis is passionate, determined and memorable. He said Davis was the crazy lady with the wigs, as he described her school spirit at Baylor sporting events.
Bianca Davis, Davis’ daughter, said her mom is an inspirational person who has taught her a lot about life.
“My mom works a lot and is always giving it all for the people she encounters,” Davis’ daughter, Bianca, said.
Bianca, who is now 22 years old, was the impetus to one of Davis’ several jobs.
“When Bianca turned 10, there wasn’t a good volleyball program for kids her age to start playing competitively,” Davis said. “So I started one of my own and founded the Waco Juniors Volleyball Club.”
This inspired Davis to start the Waco Juniors Volleyball Club. The club started off with two teams and grew to over a dozen teams for all age groups.
Davis said she was the first freshman at Tombstone High School, in Tombstone, N.M. to make the varsity team in the sports of both basketball and volleyball.
After graduation, Davis decided to attend Eastern Arizona College so she could play both volleyball and basketball, but after two years of playing there, she transferred to Western New Mexico University to concentrate on volleyball.
After playing two years at Western New Mexico, Davis became an assistant coach for her former team immediately after graduating. Two years after being an assistant coach, Davis took the position as head coach for her former team.
When Davis moved to Waco after her husband and high-school sweetheart, Raymond Davis, took a coaching job, she continued working in the fitness world although she no longer coached volleyball. Davis started her own fitness company, Fitness by Van, Co., in 1997 and then became the assistant director of campus recreations in fitness at Baylor in 1999.
Davis said however, that her love for volleyball was too strong to abandon the sport altogether.
“I still wanted a connection with volleyball although I wasn’t coaching anymore, so I became the official score keeper for the Baylor Women’s Volleyball team,” Davis said. “I remember when I started bringing Bianca to the games when she was 3 years old. She would lay on my lap and nap while I kept score, it was so cute.”
Davis has been the official score keeper for the Baylor Volleyball games for 20 years now.
Davis said perhaps the most significant event in her life was training and coaching a young volleyball player by the name of Molly Martinson.
“When Bianca graduated, I stepped away from coaching for the Waco Juniors Volleyball club, but God had a different plan for me,” Davis said.
Martinson’s mom asked Davis to coach for her, so Davis made an under 12 team for Waco Juniors Club for Martinson and Davis’ niece.
“I had the best time coaching my under-12 team,” Davis said, adding that Martinson was the best player she has ever coached.
During Davis’ time coaching her under 12 team, she experienced losing, and it wasn’t necessarily on the volleyball court.
One day, Davis received a call from Martinson’s mom saying that Molly had to stop playing and start chemotherapy for brain cancer. A year later in May 2012, died from the terminal disease.
Davis said she thought she was going to be done with coaching after coaching her under 12 team, but Molly changed her mind.
“I remember talking to Molly about two weeks before she passed and she asked me if I was going to continue coaching,” Davis said. “I’m honoring Molly by coaching. Her impact is tremendous. Volleyball was always part of my life but it has much more meaning because of Molly.”
Another loss Davis suffered was when she lost her sister, who was the mother of the niece whom she now has custody of.
“It will be two years ago this month that my sister passed away,” Davis said. “When my sister passed, I became the legal guardian of my niece, Kaitlyn, who I coached on my under-12 team with Molly,” Davis said. “I sell Girl Scout cookies because Kaitlyn and her mother loved selling Girl Scout cookies together,” Davis said. “I wanted her to keep the tradition going and help Kaitlyn with it as much as I can.”
Bianca, Davis’ daughter explained how supportive her mother is.
“She’s a really good supporter in whatever it is you are doing and she treats everyone like family,” Bianca said. “She wants to take care of you and make sure you are happy and have everything you need,” Bianca said.
Davis has had a total of 11 knee surgeries, one of which resulted in a torn ACL after competing for the American Gladiator. “My mom is so determined to do whatever it is her mind is set on,” Bianca said.
“My quest now is to be the first bionic woman to compete with my husband on the Amazing Race as the first bionic woman with titanium knees,” Davis said as she laughed.
Then she came back to a more passionate tone and said, “People cannot use their physical inability as an excuse to not take part in physical activity. I believe you must be physically active to truly live a happy and healthy life.”