Davies gives back to community through soccer


Photo submitted by Faith Davies, a redshirt senior majoring in organizational development.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

It all started in third grade for Eastern’s women’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Faith Davies.  

Davies’ granny and nana and other members of her family set the precedent of giving back to the community around them and Davies followed directly in their footsteps. 

The Lombard, Ill native began volunteering at a church near her childhood home and her love for giving back really took off during her junior year of high school at Glenbard East. 

However, injury struck, and Davies went through a very hard time in her life. 

“I had a season ending injury, I tore my MCL, and I couldn’t play anymore,” Davies said. “I got so, like, depressed because all I had known up to that point was soccer. I play soccer, I love playing soccer, and that’s all I had.” 

Davies said that after her injury, she left all her team group chats and quit soccer because her love for soccer had diminished at that point in her career. However, a new sense of hope was felt by Davies after getting involved with a program called Buddy’s Helpers. 

Buddy’s Helpers helped Davies get involved with hundreds of high school student athletes and make an impact on their lives. 

According to buddyshelpers.org, the program “engages and educates student athletes through the #PowerOFSport. It’s the vehicle to get future leaders on the road to make a difference today and create #LifeLONGMemories to impact future decision-making tomorrow with their families, in their communities and future places of employment.” 

“It helped me to learn to love soccer for the power of the sport, for the connections it gave me, the relationships it gave me,” Davies said. “The platform and the ability it gave me to help other people.” 

Brad Guzan, the former goalkeeper for Major League Soccer club Atlanta United FC, reached out to Davies through an email and told her to get involved with soccer in different ways other than just playing the sport and that email pushed her to get involved with Buddy’s Helpers. 

“Realistically I think that it plants a seed in these kids,” Davies said. “Like, we are working with all these high school kids, we’re helping them do work in their communities and giving them the opportunity to volunteer and make a difference.” 

Buddy’s Helpers works in partnership with the Body Armor Sports Series and the student athletes involved with the Tournament. Most of the volunteer work that Davies does takes place in the Chicago, Il area.  

Most recently, Davies went home and volunteered at Dulles School of Excellence, an elementary school in Chicago, Il and rewarded the students for a reading incentive program they participated in after student athletes built them a library. 

Davies was able to come back to soccer for her senior year of high school and reinjured her knee but was able to finish the season. Davies then committed to play soccer for the Panthers after transferring from UIC and has been with the team since 2019. 

At first, there were some frustrations with not being able to continue volunteering around the Chicago, Ill area after coming to Charleston, but coming here offered different opportunities for Davies. 

“Coming here has given me the opportunity to expand into more and to share my experiences and stories and all the knowledge I have picked up from volunteering with new people,” Davies said.  

A new way that Davie started giving back while being here in Charleston was calling a first grader from Chicago each week and talking to her about school, life, soccer  

Davies said that one of the coolest things to happen to her as a result of her volunteer work was that CNN did a feature story on her, while she was in high school, and how she embodied what it meant to be a positive athlete.  

A couple months later, the feature aired and a bunch of schools around the country played the video for their students and Davies started to receive personal messages from younger kids and kids her age telling her that because of her, they want to become more involved in their communities. 

Injuries struck Davies once again when she began her time with the Panthers. She suffered a hamstring injury during her junior season and then in what was supposed to be her senior season this year, Davies instead underwent hip surgery. 

Joe Trost, who runs Buddy’s Helpers, was a big mentor to Davies during the hard times that her injuries brought her.  

“I look at him as like a mentor and I have relied on a lot of the advice from him,” Davies said. “Just about using this year to become a better leader, better teammate, and really like build more relationships outside of my friend group within the team.” 

Just like her injuries in high school did not stop her from giving back, Davies once again recently used her injuries and turned it into something positive. 

On Feb. 6, Davies and fellow teammate Ava Hensley, traveled to Philadelpha, PA, to participate in the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Conference. 

Photo submitted by Faith Davies, a redshirt senior majoring in organizational development. Davies and her teammate Ava Hensely attend the Uplifitng Athletes conference in Philadelphia, Pennyslvania on Feb. 6, 2023.

Uplifting Athletes is a nonprofit organization of current student athletes that participate in events such as “Lift for Life” in order raise money for rare diseases. 

The Eastern football team has participated in “Lift for Life” and last year, another fellow teammate of Davies, Kenzie Balcerak, started a women’s teams’ chapter for the campus.  

The conference had a panel of those who have been affected by rare diseases that spoke about their experiences.  

The ‘finale’ of the conference was the sixth annual “Young Investigator Draft” that was held in the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium in order to simulate the experience of an NFL draft.  

Ten researchers submitted to receive grants to continue their research for rare diseases and each of them received $20,000 dollars. Davies was able to select Dr. Zain Awamleh. 

Through injuries and balancing life as a student-athlete, Davies said that she finds strength to continue to give back by remembering her ‘why.’  

“I want to be remembered as a good person,” Davies said. Like yeah, I want to win, but in 40 years if someone asks about soccer, I don’t care if they remember that. I want to be known as a good person and I want to know that I did everything I could to help others.” 


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]