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Two teams sport inspiring new coaches

Nikki DaSilva

Laura Davis
Mills MFA ’06

The Mills College Athletics department welcomed many staffing changes over the summer, including the hiring of Laura Davis as the new cross country coach.

Although Davis is new to the Athletic, Physical Education and Recreation (APER) department, she is not new to the Mills community. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where she ran both cross country and track and field, Davis decided to pursue her MFA in fiction writing, which she finished last spring.

“I knew that sometime after college, I wanted to get my MFA in fiction writing, and Mills was one of the programs I was looking at and very interested in,” said Davis. “I ended up getting into the program here, and for the last two years I was getting my MFA.”

It was during this time that Davis fell in love with Mills. When she found out that the APER department was looking for a new cross country coach, Davis saw an opportunity to share her passion for running with the Mills community. Originally, she thought it was going to be “a long shot,” but that did not deter her. “It would basically be my dream job at this point of my life, and many years to come, because of how much I love running and coaching,” said Davis.

Davis said that the APER department staff has greatly helped her in these first few weeks as a new coach. “We have a really amazing staff,” said Davis. “Everyone is very supportive and very enthusiastic.”

This new energy has galvanized the new cross country season. Already the team has competed in a meet at UC Davis on Sept. 9, where the team performed well. “By far, this is the most competitive meet the team will compete in all season,” Davis said. “Our team hung right in there and raced really well.”

Davis added that one of her main goals for this season is for her runners to continue to challenge themselves.

“If we challenge ourselves, we will be the type of team that is successful athletically, but also personally, and we will have a team that is strong, unified and supports each other,” she said. “That is my biggest goal for this season.”

Davis is also pursuing the idea of starting a track and field program here at Mills. “At this point, we are just exploring on whether Mills’ students are interested,” she said. The program would probably start as a P.E. course open to all Mills students, but Davis hopes that it could evolve into something more. Though she said the idea is in the “dream stage,” Davis was sure to add, “If Mills’ students are interested, I’m definitely the person to [talk to] about it.”

The Mills Invitational is scheduled for Oct. 13 at noon.

Daniel Rasay

There is a new face in Mills college volleyball this fall with the hiring of head coach Daniel Rasay.

Rasay joined the Athletic, Physical Education and Recreation (APER) staff over the summer and brings a new energy to both the volleyball program and the APER department.

Rasay was a former high school and club volleyball coach in his native Hawaii before coming to Mills and also has extensive experience from coaching in volleyball camps in Oregon. Although originally Rasay stated he was primarily interested in Mills because of its West Coast location, the more time he spent here, the more Rasay realized that here was where he wanted to be.

“As I got to know more about Mills, I thought it was a pretty good fit for me because of the diversity,” Rasay said. “I just like the fact that the athletic department is so involved. That sort of thing attracted me to Mills.”

Rasay said he initially thought his move here from Hawaii was going to be difficult, but that the APER department staff has greatly eased his transition here. “My transition here, I thought it was going to be tough,” said Rasay. “It was a different place, I thought ‘culture shock,’ but the people in the department are so welcoming and ready to lend a helping hand.”

This support has helped Rasay as he begins his first season with the Mills volleyball team. Around half of the team this season are returning players, and the other half are new. “We have a real good core,” said Rasay. “The younger players bring personality. We work together well as a team.”

Rasay said there is also some great leadership on this team that has heightened his goals and expectations for this season. “We have been progressing and getting better every day,” said Rasay.

This progression was evident on Sept. 9, when the Cyclones had their first win of the season against William Jessup University. “It was a lot different from the previous night when we played Simpson,” said Rasay. “The next night there was more of a comfort level on the court. The effort was a lot a better.”

Rasay stated that he and the team believe that the Cyclones can win half of their games this season. Regardless, Rasay stated that whether the team wins or loses, he believes the success of the season rests on how hard the team plays, not the final score. “If we play our hardest in the game, and we still lose, I think we are still successful,” said Rasay.

Rasay added that the team is always looking for more support at home matches. “I think our team is real big on getting more support at the games,” said Rasay. “We are putting out flyers before our matches.”

The next volleyball home game is Sept. 26 at 7p.m. in Haas Pavilion against Holy Names University.