Incoming senior Trina Davis already has established a legacy at Marysville Pilchuck. She’s the soccer program’s all-time leading scorer with 36 goals. She owns the school’s fastest girls 100-meter track and field time and has received multiple accolades for her athletic achievements.
Now she’s looking to make a similar impact 5,800 miles away on a small island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
While most Snohomish County soccer players next week will be trying to make their varsity squads, Davis will be in Lautoka, Fiji, helping the Fijian Women’s National Team take a step closer to the 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup in France.
“It makes me feel really proud and happy to get to show people what I am capable of,” Davis said, “and I feel like I can bring their culture over here, and that is super cool.”
Six months ago Davis, who has played at some of the highest club soccer levels in the country, would have never imagined she’d spend the final weeks of her summer in Fiji.
That became a possibility once she committed to play college soccer at Grambling State University last April. The Grambling State coaching staff had a connection to the Fijian National Team, and after learning Davis’ Indo-Fijian ethnicity, Davis’ path to Fiji began.
Davis exchanged emails and a highlight video with Fijian National Team coaches, and she was asked to partake in the 2018 Oceanic Football Confederation Women’s Nations Cup Qualifier on Aug. 22-27 at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji.
“I was honestly shocked,” Davis said. “I didn’t think they would be that impressed. I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’”
The past week-and-a-half has been a whirlwind for Davis. Days before leaving, she earned her Fijian citizenship and obtained her passport. She also received a negative MRI result on an injured knee she’d been nursing. Clearing those hurdles allowed Davis to make the globe-trotting trip.
Originally, Davis believed she’d be competing to make an age-limited team, either Fiji’s U-17 or U-20 club. But on Thursday Davis learned she’d landed a spot as a forward on the main 20-player national club.
Fiji is slated to play Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and American Samoa for a November spot in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup — OFC’s World Cup qualifier.
“The way I look at it is if you get the chance to do something like this, you have to go for it,” Marysville Pilchuck soccer coach Paul Bartley said. “I was just happy she got the opportunity.”
Davis went into the trip with minimal expectations regarding her role on the team. Before she left, she said she expected to find more about the tournament and her place on the team upon arrival and during training sessions.
“She will definitely bring lots of experience up front with her speed and skills,” said Fijian National Team coach Marika Rodu in a Fijian media publication piece featuring Davis. “I have seen her caliber via videos, which is a boost for the side.”
While Davis’ three-week Fiji trip may launch a new national club career, the journey goes beyond the soccer field. It offers Davis an immersion into a culture she’s been craving to learn more about.
Davis’ mom, Vicky Davis, was born and raised in Fiji. Vicky’s ancestors generations ago were brought from India to Fiji by the British, who colonized Fiji during much of the 18-1900s, creating a large population of Indo-Fijians that exist with native Fijians.
Vicky moved to the U.S. at 22 years old and does her best to teach her children Fijian culture.
“My kids always ask me, ‘Who are we?’” Vicky said. “Their dad is white and from (the U.S.). Trina doesn’t look anything like her dad. She has to learn about her culture, and I think this is a really great opportunity.”
Twice previously Trina has visited Fiji, but her last trip came in 2011. While she’s eager to discover more about the Fijian lifestyle, she has gotten a taste living in Marysville.
“My mom talks about (Fiji) all the time,” Trina said. “She tries to get me to speak some of the language. We just laugh because I can’t say most things. We have a lot of food. She teaches me a lot about the Fijian culture, and I’m super excited.”
Trina still has plenty to learn, though, including a particular pre-game song she will need to know.
“My mom was telling me songs I should know, like the Fijian national anthem,” Trina said. “My mom has been singing it. I’ve been practicing, but I don’t know one bit.
“I was 9 years old the last time I went, and it’s very different. When you take a shower there, there is no shower head. You have to boil water to take a hot shower. It’s a really different lifestyle compared to ours. But they are still very grateful for everything that they have. They are all very happy.”
A downside to Trina’s trip is the ramifications it has for her prep soccer season. Trina expects to return before Marysville Pilchuck’s first game but needs 10 practices before she can play and therefore will miss several regular-season games.
The choice wasn’t easy for Trina, who clearly described her love for high school soccer, but she couldn’t pass up the chance to compete at such a high level and so intimately connect with her culture.
“I’m really sad to miss part of my senior season,” Trina said. “We have new players this year and figuring out how to play could be kind of hard, but I’m really excited. Playing high school, you have a lot of fun.”
Trina is hoping her time in Fiji will benefit Marysville Pilchuck this fall on the field through learned skill and off the field thanks to new-found cultural perspective.