By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–Ever since Jovi Davis was roughly in the fourth-grade, there’s always been a girl a year younger than him by his side as a cheerleader in sister Rayna Davis.
Only separated by a year, Jovi a senior this year and Rayna a junior, the two’s bond together runs deeper than blood and in sports.
Growing up wasn’t easy for the Davis’, having battled their own unique things growing up, Jovi described some of the things to me in a personal conversation during the first week of the season that I’ll keep between himself and I; but the bond between the two has strengthen through it all.
“She’s kind of like…she’s my little sister and for whatever happens between my life and hers, all the bad stuff we had to battle through, I was like her Guardian Angel,” starts Jovi. “I was there to protect her when she needed it. I was there to hold her when she was crying, I was there to give her a hug when she needed one and I try to be the best role model I can for her. I slip up sometimes and so does she we get on each other’s ass about it but we still have that connection that keeps us going.
“Like we were lucky enough to have our little fighting stages and stuff before our teenage years so that we were able to carry it out so that we get along a lot better than we ever have.”
For Rayna, who remembers the drive Jovi had growing up for sports especially with football, too spoke to how protective the five-foot-eleven athlete is when it comes to his younger sister.
“Well me and Jovi, he’s a really protective older brother and he would never do anything to put me in harms way, espically with it being on a football team it’s gone from new football players coming over and saying, “i get my sister is really beautiful, do not hit on her. I know you’,” said Rayna. “So it’s like having an entire Varsity football team (being) your older brother and comes with that comes with a lot of protection and a lot of not being able to have guys I feel like (laughs).”
But hey, who hasn’t when their younger sibling right in protecting them right?
Rayna illustrated Jovi’s protectiveness has pin-pointing back to when she was in the fifth-grade riding her bike at the Weather’s Street and being bullied by a local kid, and after calling on Jovi to help out, Jovi came by and made sure his sister was ok at the park without any problems.
“But he’s been there for me where in fifth-grade where I was completely bullied, I was torn apart and I remember one point a boy kept spitting on me when I was riding my bike at the park and I had called Jovi and Jovi was at the park at about two minutes, he ran there,” starts Rayna.
“And he was like, ‘ok, ride your bike again. I want to see if he does it’ and he started running up to me, Jovi came across that field in about five seconds and tackled him. He was like, ‘don’t you ever, ever do that to my sister’. So it’s something I’m very blessed with, but there is times where he was like, ‘you need to face things by yourself. You need to stand up for yourself. Unless it’s a guy, and then I’ll beat him up’.”
Kind of hard to imagine from the always-friendly and well-spoken Jovi Davis, but you can see that protectiveness-trait a bit once your around him enough.
As Rayna and Jovi grew up, they entered McKay High School where Jovi continued to play football and plays baseball for the Scotsman, and when Rayna came to McKay Jovi’s sophomore year, the two found themselves along the sidelines of Scots games Monday’s, Thursday’s and Friday’s nights.
Jovi, said that it’s cool to see Rayna have just as much success as he is in sports with football as she is with cheer.
“It’s been pretty cool, being able to have your sister through your journey of your High School career,” said Jovi. “Having her there, not only there cheering you on… is pretty excited to me that my sister’s having just as big of a success as I am on the field as she is in cheer.
“She can carry it on through college and stuff like that, just having her by my side the whole time, it’s just feels great. It’s…you can’t ask for anything else cooler than a brother and sister connection.”
Rayna mentions that it goes beyond the X’s and O’s and painted lines and pom-poms between the three-years they’ve been together as cheerleader and football player siblings with how football brought them closer together in a different aspect than everyday life.
“For me, it hasn’t just been the three years he’s been in High School football, I’ve been his cheerleader since I was four I would say and he was in Flag (Football),” said Rayna. “And I just remember that everything he wanted was Football and I totally remember being a tackling dummy in the snow.
“So it’s just him being a older brother and just being able to do that. We established a special bond there and not only around football, but he made me be a better cheerleader and I made him a better football player because he knew that there was always someone always in his corner on the track fro him.”
On October 27, 2017, it marked the end of one chapter of their lives as the Scots played Sprague for the season finale. It was Jovi’s Senior Night.
And though the Olympians would go on to defeat McKay 47-6, Jovi, if given the chance to have his sister cheer for him or be given a State Championship Ring, the choice was simple:
Now before you get after him, listen to his reasoning. Yes, a Championship ring is nice and would be nice, but for Jovi there’s more beneath the surface.
“It was one of the great feelings I’ll remember. To me having her be a cheerleader for me on my last game of high school is probably better for me than winning a State ring,” said Jovi. “I would rather have her by my side cheering for me as much as she can than get a State ring. If I had a choice, I’ll choose that any day, it’s just a great feeling knowing that she’s there, we’ve been through so much and being able to go…have kind of the same safe area was kind of cool.”
A safe area, everyone has their own in some form or another, myself it was too the football field at Crater while I went through what I went through; for the Davis sibilings, their bond stems from a lot of things, and to share one last special moment together was something else.
For Rayna, with Jovi not being there on the field for her senior year, she’ll be cheering yes, but it’ll be weird not seeing her older brother out there on the field when she does it.
“It was something that meant a lot to me,” said Rayna. “I don’t think that I would have spend my last Junior game any other way and especially when it came to Senior night and being able to run across the field to him and jump on him was huge for me because specifically when he’s in the huddle and we’re about to do a run-through, we always hug and we always wish each other good luck,
“But the fact we were on the field standing next to each other meant a lot because everybody knows we’re the siblings of school and the fact he’s not going to be here next year for me makes me wonder who am I cheering for next year? Who am I really cheering for?”
As Jovi walked to the locker room for the last time to take off his football gear, too for the last time, he couldn’t be more prouder of Rayna in the person she has became through everything they’ve gone through.
“She is probably one of the smartest, prettiest, most gifted person I’ve ever met in my life. She is beyond intelligent she is works her ass off to get where she wants to get to and she’s going to get to what she wants to get to. She wants to be a writer when she gets older and she’s going to be able to do that,” said Jovi. “How she grew up is just crazy to me how we are both are athletes and my mom didn’t really play sports and my dad played football, basketball and baseball so that’s where the two came into play for me. But my sister being a cheerleader, I don’t know where it came from.”
And as Rayna walks out to the parking lot from her last football game as a junior, she too couldn’t be more prouder of Jovi and thanking him for helping her become the person she has became today and moving forward.
“I could not be prouder who he’s become and who he made me be. He is someone who I continuously look up to and I continuously can depend on to make me grow and watch others grow. The biggest thing about Jovi is he never quits and if you tell him to give up, he’s like ‘watch me do it again’,” starts Rayna. “It’s something he’s taught me because I’ve always been scared to do things over and over again, especially when you fail the first-time and he’s like, ‘sometimes you got to do the same thing again and again and again until it works’.
“And if he didn’t taught me that, I don’t think I would be where I am today and because of him having that mindset, he’s gotten to where he is and who knows? He could be playing college and it makes me so proud of him that after everyone telling him, ‘you can’t do it’, he’s like, ‘watch me’ and that takes a lot of guts to sit there and still say, ‘watch me’ after 18 years of football.”
It’s no doubt that Jovi has influenced those around him, the same with Rayna and those around her. With their nose-to-the-grindstone attitudes, their Russell Wilson-like outspokenness and intelligence, and their kindness and friendliness to others makes them unique through all the adversity they’ve went through in their lives.
And their bond to keep each other moving and pushing each other to be a better person goes beyond the girdiron and pom-poms, the under-eye paint and the eye glitter, the cleats and sneakers.
It’s just that: A special and unique bond.