Lawrence Davis’ college lacrosse career was short-lived.
After graduating from Jordan High School in Durham in 2011, Davis turned down a scholarship offer from Catawba College and decided to walk on at High Point University. He was a team manager hoping to work his way up to play.
Davis, who was recently hired as Sanderson High School’s new head lacrosse coach, wanted to prove himself as a player, but he ran into trouble.
He said a night out with friends led to a physical altercation, and he was dismissed from his role with the High Point lacrosse team.
“It was like a bad decision for my playing career,” said Davis, 22. “However, the lessons I learned, my game improved so much while I was there. The way I was doing things weren’t necessarily correct. Coach Jon Torpey really tweaked the way I did things. Those small steps helped so much. I didn’t get a chance to put that into play, and that’s why I guess I have the passion to coach.”
Davis, who has been an assistant for Sanderson lacrosse since the team formed in May 2014, will take over for Dexter Tillett.
He said he wanted to stay connected to the sport he’s played since he was 9 by teaching others from what became a career-ending error. To him, there was no better opportunity than as a head coach of a high school program.
“I never got a chance to actually play (in college), but the stuff that I learned and the experience that I had with those guys was so touching,” said Davis, who transferred to Guilford Technical Community College before taking a semester off in the spring of 2013. “I learned so much that I felt like it was my duty to teach somebody else from my mistakes.”
Davis, a former midfielder, said he discovered lacrosse by accident. He fell asleep with the television on as a child, and when he woke up, a curious sport drew his attention.
“I couldn’t find the remote, and I couldn’t change it,” he said. “I wound up watching the whole game.”
He said he told his friends at school the following Monday and eventually joined a winter lacrosse league.
Davis found the sport provided numerous travel opportunities and, most significantly for him as a child, relieved stress. He said he had a rocky relationship with his father, who died in October.
I never had to think about any outside problems (when I played lacrosse). If I had anything going on with family issues or my dad was making me mad, it’s whatever. I knew 2:30 was going to come and I’ll have a chance to play lacrosse.
Sanderson lacrosse coach Lawrence Davis
“My dad was on drugs and so his addiction got really bad from the time that I was 8 to 11,” Davis said. “I didn’t really talk to him much because he was out on the street. We would butt heads.”
Davis said their relationship went up and down through his senior year, especially after his father missed his graduation.
When Davis left High Point, the pair grew closer and was “on the same page,” he said.
“I always want to see the best out of people,” Davis said. “I knew that wasn’t him, so I wanted to still work with him. The Golden Rule is treat people how you want to be treated, and I felt like he did that. He honestly was a good person. Even through all of his medicine, he would teach me valuable lessons. I learned a lot from my dad. He was my rock, because even through all of that, he came through on the other side.”
Davis said his experiences will fuel his coaching philosophy.
Through the loss of his father and his potential spot on a college lacrosse roster, Davis has learned patience. He became a sports writer for Durham’s Spectacular Magazine to keep his mind active.
He will have to alter his schedule when official lacrosse practice opens in February, but he likes a busy routine.
Because of his age, he said the lack of interest from some of the older players in the program may create challenges. He said a majority of underclassmen attended a recent interest meeting.
“It’s my goal to change the culture of the program, because we haven’t done things too seriously,” Davis said. “I think the hard change is going to be difficult for some guys, but some guys are on board. I just feel like we’re in a conference that features a lot of schools that have had success in the past, teams that have won the conference in the past, teams that have had teams for 15-plus years. It’s difficult for us.”
Going back to his short days at High Point, Davis says he can offer a lot. He can teach the players the necessity of fundamentals and patience.
Davis wants to take it one step at a time under his leadership.
“When I was playing, I was too lazy and too cocky. I thought I didn’t have to do much. I screwed around and I just really did things the wrong way,” Davis said. “I also had the opportunity to do something good, and I really messed it up. I made some really stupid decisions. I’m trying to take it step by step to really do things the right way.
“Take time to do things the right way, even if it takes a little longer.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan