April 30, 2014
By Steven McCartney, Sports Information Intern
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Senior Aurora Davis has been a captain of the sand volleyball team for the past three seasons. She has grown from a quiet leader into someone that both her teammates and coaches can turn to for inspiration and motivation both on and off the court.
For her efforts in both arenas, Davis was honored with the 2014 Golden Nole Award, given to a member of each Seminole team by the coaching staff that shows excellence on the field and in the community, as well as displaying a great attitude and dedication to the program.
"That was really surprising to me," Davis said. "I was so excited and so surprised, and it really meant a lot, all of the nice things Coach (Danalee Corso) was saying about me. For the coaches to choose to give that to me, it was great."
On the court, she has partnered with teammate Jace Pardon to go 36-1 on the season while leading the Seminoles to the No. 3 seeding at this weekend's AVCA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. In the community, Davis has donated her time towards numerous efforts, including volunteering at the animal shelter and visiting patients and families in the breast cancer ward at local hospitals.
Her favorite event of the year, however, was when the team travelled to the Tallahassee-Leon County Shelter and played games with the children, including volleyball and kickball.
"The homeless shelter was really awesome because we got to go play games with kids and hang out with them, and that's one of my favorite things," Davis said. "I just love kids, and any time I get to spend with them is great."
For Florida State sand volleyball head coach Danalee Corso, the improvements on and off the court for Davis have been evident and one of the reasons the Noles will enter the National Championships with a 16-1 record.
"She's grown a ton in her leadership skills," Corso said. "She was always fiercely competitive, but she learned as a captain it's not about just being nice, she has to hold her teammates accountable. She always takes care of working hard herself, but we're in a team sport, so she needs to make sure she knows how to remain nice while helping motivate and push the other teammates who working hard is not as easy for them to do all the time."
Straddling the line between being nice and being demanding is something that Davis worked to improve over the past three seasons, and one of the main reasons her teammates also honored her with the Femina Perfecta award. The honor is voted on by teammates during the offseason that recognizes a peer for their leadership.
"That is a huge honor because it's chosen by the team, and it's for leadership and being a good athlete and an all-around good person," Davis said. "So for them to pick me for that, I was honored. My motivation every day is to give 110 percent at everything I do. On the court, I lead by example because I'm not the loudest person, so it is nice to be recognized by the team for the effort that I'm putting in every day."
In addition to the two awards won by Davis, sophomore Katherine Plessy captured the ACC's Top Six for Service award, which honors the six student athletes per school who have contributed the most community service hours.
Although Plessy has been sidelined this season with an injury that caused her to redshirt, she says the injury has given her the opportunity to help out around the community when she is not around her teammates.
Along with the team's event at the Tallahassee shelter, Plessy has donated her time to local elementary schools, including a health fair that promoted healthy living and eating. On campus, she takes notes for students with disabilities through the Student Disability Resource Center and is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
"SAAC has provided me numerous opportunities for service around the community," Plessy said of the organization. "Most service hours are done individually, so SAAC actually brought me closer to other athletes at FSU because I met most of them through these events, people I wouldn't normally meet."
"She's such a wonderful person, and so mature from the day that she got here, and so appreciative," Corso said of Plessy. "It's very rare to have an athlete at such a young age who is always thankful to her coaches, and is such a leader amongst her peers, even last year as a freshman. When you see qualities like that, I'm not surprised that she is one of the leaders in community service."
As a team, sand volleyball finished fourth on campus among community service hours per athlete, an honor that Corso said shows the team's dedication to seeking out opportunities to help out aside from team-sanctioned activities.
"That was a total surprise to me, because I was feeling like we weren't doing a lot in that department, and what it shows is that they were doing it on their own," Corso said. "It wasn't coach driven, they just got together and had been doing it.
"I'm so proud of the girls for that, and I really make sure they know that, because we work so hard and we're always focused on the X's and O's, but in the end, helping in the community really is important to me and it helps keep everything in perspective."
On the court, the sand volleyball team caps the season this Friday through Sunday at the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. The team has reached the semifinals in each of the first two years and opens the tournament this year against No. 6 Stetson at 11 a.m. on Friday.