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Gay volleyball player transferred after threats, now cherishing second chance

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College Roundup: Chase Boyle and Emmonnie Henderson throw far.

Drew Davis has found a home on the Limestone College volleyball team.
Limestone Athletics/Stacey Wylie

Drew Davis bounced the volleyball twice, spun it in his right hand then held the ball in front of him, closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

The Limestone College volleyball coach chose Davis — who is playing his first season at the school in Gaffney, South Carolina — as the team’s first server to start the 2017 season.

Davis threw the ball high, hit it, and sent it at the nation’s No. 10-ranked men’s volleyball team, George Mason.

“It pretty much blew up the serve receiver and middle back,” said Davis, who shared publicly he is gay in March 2014.

Despite Davis’ strong serve, George Mason managed to win the first point and took the first set, 25-17.

Limestone looked poised to win the second set, and Davis recorded a kill and a block on consecutive points that put his team ahead 20-17. Limestone reached set point with a 24-22 lead, but George Mason rallied for a 29-27 win in the second set and closed the match with a 25-19 third-set win.

“The whole entire match, I had goosebumps,” Davis said. “The hair on the back of my neck was just standing straight up.”

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Davis played every point of the match, and he recorded seven kills, seven digs, two aces, and one block in that Jan. 7 season opener.

“After a loss, I’ve never felt good, but the way we played and the way we fought … everybody was on the same page. We were all playing really well.”

As a redshirt senior, Davis is enjoying his second chance at volleyball more than he expected.

Davis thought he was done playing when he transferred from Erskine College after the 2015 season. He decided to leave the conservative Christian school in Due West, South Carolina, after it adopted a stance against homosexuality in February 2015.

The hostile environment created by the Erskine Board of Trustees’ action led to Davis being threatened. On March 20, 2015, an anonymous letter was put inside his car. Davis remembers the letter saying:

“Dear faggot, If you don’t leave this semester or you decide to come back, we’ll make sure that you or your family or someone that you love is going to get hurt.”

Davis said he felt “shock” getting the letter and thought, “Are these people really serious? What am I doing that’s making them so mad besides liking men?”

He never wavered in his conviction of being out as gay. But when Davis finished his junior season on the Erskine volleyball team, he enrolled at College of Charleston. He served as a student volunteer assistant coach with the women’s volleyball team the fall of 2015, and he expected to finish college at the Charleston, South Carolina, school, which doesn’t offer men’s volleyball.

However, a friend on the Limestone women’s volleyball team kept telling him to use his final season of eligibility. She connected Davis with the Limestone men’s volleyball coach, and after they talked, Davis enrolled at the non-denominational Christian college in January 2016. Conference Carolinas rules forced Davis to redshirt the 2016 season since he was going to play within the same conference.

“I’m so happy here and so happy with my teammates and the way I was accepted here,” said Davis, who was a student assistant coach with the Limestone women’s volleyball team this fall. “My sexual orientation, it’s not a big deal, and it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Davis won a Conference Carolinas title and reached the NCAA tournament as a sophomore at Erskine. As one of five seniors in the Limestone starting lineup, he hopes to help his teammates experience those accomplishments. That pursuit resumes Saturday, when Limestone plays its second match of the season and its first conference match.

“I’ve never been happier,” Davis said. “I wish I would have went here from the very beginning.”

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.

Division I

Nicholle Aston (senior, Cornell women’s basketball) helped the Big Red (10-4 overall) to a 2-0 record the last two weeks. Aston contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds to a 77-70 win against Columbia on Saturday, and she provided 10 points, eight rebounds, and three assists to a 72-51 win against Delaware State on Jan. 5.

Schuyler Bailar (sophomore, Harvard men’s swimming) swam exhibition races of the 100-yard butterfly (52.25 seconds), 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 0.76 seconds), and the 200 medley relay during a triangular meet Saturday. Bailar did not compete Jan. 6-7 during the team’s meets in Utah.

Chase Boyle (senior, Mount St. Mary’s men’s track & field) finished second in the weight throw (57 feet, 1/4 inches) and seventh in the shot put (44-5 1/4) during the Navy Winter Invitational on Saturday.

Konrad Eiring (sophomore, Illinois men’s track and field) decided to redshirt during indoor track and field season due to injuries. He expects to return for outdoor season.

Emmonnie Henderson (senior, Louisville women’s track & field) captured second place in the shot put (54-5 1/2) and third in the weight throw (61-5 1/2) on Friday and Saturday at the Kentucky Invite.

Liam Huffman (senior, George Washington men’s swimming) swam two individual events Saturday for his Senior Day against George Mason, finishing fourth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:46.56) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (4:47.35). On Friday in a dual meet against Georgetown, Huffman finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:47.29) and third in the 1,000 freestyle (10:01.11).

Nick Jessee (senior, St. Louis men’s swimming) had his team’s meet Friday canceled because of an impending ice storm that hit St. Louis.

Ayrton Kasemets (junior, Oakland men’s swimming) competed in four events during a four-team meet Friday and Saturday at Cincinnati. His best finish was seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke (59.57 seconds).

Jake Martin (redshirt senior, Ohio State men’s gymnastics) opened the 2017 season by winning the all-around title at the six-team Windy City Invitational on Saturday with a score of 83.400. Martin also took third on pommel horse (13.800), placed third on horizontal bar (14.250), and tied for third on floor exercise (14.300). “I was very proud of Jake [Martin] tonight, and how he competed,” Ohio State men’s gymnastics coach Rustam Sharipov said in a press release.

Cory Moreno (junior, Old Dominion men’s diving) took second in both 1-meter and 3-meter springboard during a three-team meet Jan. 2. He scored 273.4 on 1 meter and 263.4 on 3 meter. On Jan. 7, his team’s meet at William & Mary was canceled because of snow. Moreno led his team with a third on 1-meter (264.52) and fourth on 3-meter (215.4) during Saturday’s dual meet with East Carolina.

Alex Obendorf (junior, West Virginia men’s diving) scored 308.4 to take second on 3-meter springboard and finished fourth on 1-meter springboard (298.43) in a dual meet at Pittsburgh on Jan. 7. Against TCU in a dual meet Saturday, Obendorf took second in both springboard competitions by scoring 330.3 on 1-meter and 349.15 on 3-meter.

G Ryan (junior, Michigan women’s swimming) swam three events Jan. 3 at the six-team Orange Bowl Classic with a second place in the 400-meter shortcourse freestyle (4:14.77) being Ryan’s best finish. Ryan also took fourth in 100 butterfly (1:04.27) and helped the 200 freestyle relay take third. In a dual meet with Indiana on Friday, Ryan helped Michigan’s 400-yard freestyle relay win, and Ryan earned runner-up in both the 500 freestyle (4:48.28) and 1,000 freestyle (9:58.01) to go with fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:48.63). Jamie Bissett (assistant coach, Michigan diving) saw diver Kristen Hayden take second in both springboard competitions in Friday’s dual with Indiana, but Michigan’s men didn’t have a diver finish higher than fourth Friday.

Max Showalter (sophomore, Purdue men’s diving) did not compete Friday in a dual meet against Michigan State due to a concussion.

Steven Stumph (senior, Southern California men’s swimming) won the 200-yard breaststroke in 1:59.21 during Friday’s home dual meet against Wisconsin. He also took second in the 100 breaststroke (56.15 seconds) and swam on USC’s third-place 400 medley relay.

Jaron Thomas (senior, Colorado men’s track and field) ran the second best time in the 60-meter hurdle prelims (8.11 seconds) but false started in the finals Saturday at the Potts Invitational. He also helped the 4x400-meter relay to a win in 3:16.55.

Jack Thorne (sophomore, Northwestern men’s swimming) did not compete Saturday due to illness.

Juan Varona (redshirt senior, Barton men’s volleyball) recorded a team-high six digs in his team’s season-opening win against Alderson Broaddus on Friday. Barton won 25-16, 25-15, 25-17.

Wayne Zhang (junior, Yale men’s diving) took fifth in both springboard competitions on Jan. 6-7 in a meet against Dartmouth and Penn, scoring 248.0 on 1-meter and 244.65 on 3-meter. On Friday and Saturday in a dual meet at Penn State, Zhang took fifth on 1-meter (233.45) and sixth on 3-meter (257.55).

Chris Burns (assistant coach, Bryant men’s basketball) saw the Bulldogs (5-13 overall) go 2-2 the last two weeks, with a 112-110 triple overtime loss Saturday.

Nunzio Esposto (Duke men’s and women’s diving coach) guided his divers in a dual meet with South Carolina on Saturday, and the lone Blue Devils diving win came from Nathaniel Hernandez in the men’s 3-meter springboard.

Randy Lane (assistant coach, UCLA women’s gymnastics) saw his team split its first two matches of the year, beating Arkansas 195.7-195.35 on Jan. 7 before Sunday’s loss to No. 2-ranked Oklahoma 198.025-196.825

Lee-J Mirasolo (assistant coach, Harvard women’s hockey) endured the Crimson (1-13-2 overall) going 0-4-1 the last two weeks. The 2-2 tie on Jan. 6 came against No. 8-ranked Quinnipiac.

Jesse Moore (assistant coach, Northwestern women’s swimming) had his team fall to Notre Dame 182-118 in a dual meet Saturday.

Stephanie White (head coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) saw her Commodores (10-8 overall, 0-5 SEC) go 0-4 the last two weeks, with the 70-68 loss to Georgia on Jan. 8 occur on a shot with three-tenths of a second remaining. Vanderbilt’s Jan. 22 game at Tennessee is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. ET, and its Jan. 26 home game against Alabama is being broadcast by SEC Network at 9 p.m. ET.

Division II

Austin Olivares (senior, Lindenwood men’s swimming) had his team’s Friday and Saturday meet canceled because of an ice storm that hit St. Louis.

Division III

Greg Arther (junior, Wisconsin-Platteville men’s track and field) did not compete Saturday due to illness.

Chris Cassingham (junior, Mary Washington men’s swimming) swam three events in Saturday’s dual meet at St. Mary’s in Maryland. He took second in the 500-yard freestyle (5:03.53), third in the 1,650 freestyle (17:30.46), and helped his 200 freestyle relay take second.

Alec Donovan (freshman, Centenary wrestling) won 17-0 by technical fall in 3 minutes, 31 seconds on Jan. 6 against Bergen at 165 pounds. On Jan 10 against Wilkes, Donovan wrestled at 157 pounds and won 7-4. Centenary won both dual matches.

Julie Shaw (head coach, La Verne women’s basketball) guided the Leopards (1-13 overall) to their first win of the season Jan. 9 in a 68-57 win against Pomona-Pitzer. La Verne went 1-3 the last two weeks. "We've been telling the team to trust the process and know that change can happen slowly," Shaw said in a press release after the Pomona-Pitzer win.

NAIA

David Gilbert (senior, Lewis-Clark men’s track & field) helped his team’s 4x800 meter relay win (8:05.52) and took third in his heat of the mile (4:53.0, 15th place overall) Friday at the Vandal Indoor Invitational.

Jack Strickland (senior, Friends men’s track and field) finished ninth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.71 seconds), took 12th in the 400 meters (55.57 seconds), and claimed 12th in triple jump (12.44 meters) on Jan. 11 at the Shocker Prelude hosted by Wichita State.

Nick Clark (head coach, Clarke men’s volleyball) started the season Saturday with a 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 loss at Carthage.

Community College

Maria Berrum (sophomore, Oakton women’s basketball) went 1-1 in the two games that results were available for in the past two weeks. Oakton player stats were not available from the games.

Taylor Emery (sophomore, Gulf Coast State women’s basketball) experienced her first loss of the season Jan. 10 after helping the Commodores (19-1 overall) win the first 18 games of the season. Tallahassee Community College beat Gulf Coast State 89-78, and Emery had 17 points and five rebounds. The Commodores bounced back with a 99-55 win Saturday.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.