By Faye Curran
Everyone has that turning point, that moment in which a split-second decision separates you from success or from failure. For some, that moment can define which life path you take. For senior short stick defensive midfielder and captain of the Maryland lacrosse team Isaiah Davis-Allen, that moment has come more than once in his life.
Davis-Allen arguably had one of the most difficult losses in his family: the loss of his mother. His mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer when he was a senior in high school and she died before he got to college.
“Most people are shocked that I’m not more upset when I talk about it,” Davis-Allen said. “But we weren’t close like her and my sister were.”
He seems unfazed by the loss of his mother. As we speak across a table outside a café where he lives now in College Park, I find it a little strange. But he continued.
“My aunt stepped in after she died and they were like the same person,” he explained.
Davis-Allen sees himself more as a brother to his father who works for the government and is away for months at a time.
“My dad, I couldn’t even tell you what he does, it’s one of those [jobs],” he said. “I was 18 when my mom passed away so he backed off, but he became stricter with my sister.”
But Davis-Allen has learned some valuable lessons from his mother passing away and advised those going through something similar.
“Make sure you’re mentally there,” he said. “For a little bit of time you’re in a fog saying you’re fine. It hits you at some point. Deal with that, then get passed that. Spend as much time with friends as possible. Don’t use it as motivation, but use it as something that drives you.”
He said his mom pressured him to perform on the field.
“I remember her most with her voice in the back of my head,” he said. “She was always so hard on me. She would be in my ear about playing.”
The second turning point for Davis-Allen came when he was at his family home, a place he spends little time now.
He grew up in Springfield, Virginia, where you can purchase guns at your own disposal. This caused trouble around him when he grew up. Most of his friends are not attending college and could drag him off the beaten track at any time.
“I was like the goody two shoes where I grew up,” Davis-Allen said. “Because people knew I was in school and there was a situation they would tell me maybe it’s time to go inside now. They looked after me in that way.”
Davis-Allen has seen eight of his friends die. With those experiences, battles on the field don’t bother him.
“I just know I am tougher than anyone who I play,” he said.
He shared a story about life in his hometown.
“I was unpacking my car from college to put inside the house. A car comes screeching up, a guy rolls down the window and says, ‘Was that the guy?’” Davis-Allen said, gesturing with a finger pointed out straight in front of him. “The other guy says no, and they just pulled away. I packed my car right back up and drove back to college. At that point I just had it hit me that I wanted nothing to do with that kind of life.”
How does all this transfer onto the lacrosse field? Davis-Allen knows what his role is and how he operates.
“I get in peoples’ heads, that’s what I do,” he said. “I guess you could say that my downfall is I have a short fuse. But when I’m on that field that is all I can think about.”
As a captain there are added pressures, but again Davis-Allen has a grasp of his role for the team.
“Most of the time the boys will come to me and they take 15 minutes to describe something that needs two seconds,” he said. “You just get to the bottom of their issues and set them straight. When the freshman come in they need knocking down a peg or two. I know I did.”
The defensive midfielder described the team as having 150 best friends and brothers as soon as you get here. He was overwhelmed when head coach John Tillman came to the funeral of his mother before he attended college, and he knew that was a starting point for a family of people around him at Maryland. With three NCAA Final Four appearances, this is Davis-Allen’s final chance to win a national championship, he was named a First Team All-American last season and hopes to be able to play a big part in bringing the team to glory this season.