KINGSTON — At 5, Sammy Davis was on the ice, in figure skates.
But a year later the Pembroke resident, following the lead of her twin brother, Brad, and older sister, Alex, suited up with a helmet, hockey stick in hand.
She has never looked back.
“I’m pretty sure my mom just pushed me out on the ice and was like, ‘play,’ ” recalled Davis, now 16 and a rising sophomore at Tabor Academy in Marion. “I was kicking and screaming, my mom told me. Then, I suddenly fell in love with it.”
Fast forward 10 years and Davis, a forward for the Bay State Breakers U19 Green team, found herself in Lake Placid, N.Y., trying out for the U18 national team earlier this month.
She had earned a spot on the Massachusetts team, qualifying for the national camp in Minnesota. Selected as an all-star at the camp, she received a call two weeks later from the U18 coach.
“I was so shocked and so surprised,” said Davis after finishing up an hour-plus practice session with the Breakers Tuesday night at The Bog, an ice arena in Kingston. “It was one of the best moments of my hockey career so far.”
‘I think playing hockey with great players makes you work hard and be competitive.’
The 5-foot-5 Davis, the leading scorer at Tabor last season (13 goals, 12 assists), made the national development camp as a 14-year-old, but this was the first time she was invited to Lake Placid.
Breakers assistant coach Tony Messina, a 1980 graduate of Hingham High and the varsity boys’ coach at his alma mater, fondly remembers the US men’s hockey team knocking off the heavily favored Russians at Lake Placid in 1980. He said it was special that Davis was able to play in a rink with such a rich history.
Davis was cut from the U18 squad, but she did not dwell on her exit upon realizing that she was only one of 30 girls in the country to attend.
While staying at the Olympic Training Center, she soaked in the atmosphere, taking note of the determination of the luge and skeleton competitors in their workouts.
Her role model, however, is Cammi Granato, captain of the US women’s ice hockey squad that captured gold in 1998 and one of the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. And they both shared a background of starting out playing against boys.
In youth hockey, Davis skated with the Pembroke Pythons with her brother through the Mite and Squirt levels before switching to playing with girls. Her older sister had played on the Breakers before Davis put on a uniform at age 11.
Bauer shirts and Reebok hats are typical staples of her wardrobe, but Davis also likes to dress up and take time to be “girly.”
“My dress code at school is skirts and dresses and blazers,” Davis said. “I shop, I’ll bake, I’ll paint my nails. I’ll dress up.”
At Tabor, Davis roomed with Duxbury’s Caroline Shaunessy, a Breakers teammate. Lily Connolly, another Breakers player from Duxbury, lived in the same dorm. The trio teamed up to throw dance parties in the dorm and went to the dining hall together.
Connolly calls Davis “the best player by far” on the Breakers.
Shaunessy and Connolly anchor the blue line for the Breakers, though Connolly played forward at Tabor Academy last season. Shaunessy and Davis were field hockey teammates last fall.
The Breakers are preparing for the North American Hockey Academy tournament Labor Day weekend at the University of Vermont.
Breakers coach Scott Shaunessy, noting that nearly every Division 1 college coach will attend, calls it the biggest tourney for recruits in the country.
His team has already competed in the Beantown Classic in Marlborough in July, as well as the Magog, Quebec’s Silver Seven tournament earlier this month.
Davis is one of the younger players on the team and does not have college in her sights yet, but for rising senior Connolly, the tournament is her biggest showcase before she commits. Rising junior Shaunessy is also feeling the pressure to make a good impression.
“Any coach you can possibly imagine is there,” Shaunessy said. “You could be at a game and you’ll have the Brown, Harvard, BC, BU coach all on the boards and it’ll be intimidating. But it’s awesome to get that exposure.”
She said her dream school would be Harvard, because her grandfather, Robert, a former football player, is a member of that university’s athletic hall of fame. She grew up going to home games at Harvard Stadium.
Connolly is considering a New England Small College Athletic Conference school, such as Connecticut College, because she also plays soccer and lacrosse. Hockey is her main priority and she said she plans to play defense in college despite only converting to the position from forward this year.
While Davis is aiming to play collegiately at a Division I school, her focus is ultimately on reaching the Olympic level. She said getting cut from the team this year only gives her fuel to come back stronger next time around.
“I think playing hockey with great players makes you work hard and be competitive,” Davis said. “I’m not going to stop until I get to wear that USA jersey.”Peter Cappiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps.