The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions
Champions have long defined the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The list of Hall of Fame athletes who have competed in the annual contest is staggering. But the list of champions extends well past the football game. Since its inception in 1934, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has given opportunities to young athletes in many amateur sporting events.
In late 2016, the Allstate Sugar Bowl published stories on five athletes who competed in Sugar Bowl events and then went on to excellence after their New Orleans’ experiences.
Feature No. 1: Derek Wolfe, Football
Feature No. 2: Bob Cousy, Basketball
Feature No. 3: Patrick Mullins, Soccer
Feature No. 4: Jemima Jelaget Sumgong, Road Racing
Feature No. 5: Janice Davis, Track & Field
This was followed by four additional stories in the fall of 2017.
Feature No. 6: Hal Sutton, Golf
Feature No. 7: Barbara Farris, Basketball
Feature No. 8: Julio Jones, Football/Track & Field
Feature No. 9: Archie Manning
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions – Janice Davis
The life of a resident doctor is a difficult one. They face long, tedious hours and are constantly under review.
But to Dr. Janice Davis, it’s a piece of cake compared to a hard track workout.
Davis, from Natchez, Miss., was a five-time All-American sprinter at Stanford and was prepping for a shot at the Olympics in 2008 when a back injury derailed her plans. She moved on to medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina and now is an anesthesiology resident at UT-Southwestern in Dallas.
“When I’m pushing a 70-hour week, to me, it’s still easier than a two-hour track practice session,” Davis said. “People look at me strange when I tell them that. I could run a hard workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I was pretty much wiped out for the rest of the day. Now, I can push a 16-, 17-hour shift and, at most, I may be a little tired but I’m not physically exhausted.”
Before excelling at Stanford, Davis was one of the nation’s top high school sprinters at Natchez High.
You’ll still find her name among the record holders of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Track and Field Classic. Davis recorded the top 200-meter dash time in the event’s history at 23.77 seconds in 2001. She also has the fourth best time in the 100 (11.73 in 2001) and the second and third best times in the 400 (54.56 in 2002 and 54.82 in 2001).
Her story might be considered a hard-luck one. Believing she was at peak competition form in 2007 and ’08, Davis appeared headed for a date at the Beijing Olympics. But a freak back injury while lifting weights while preparing for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials ended her dream.
But Davis said not to feel sorry for her. She said her experiences in track have helped propel her to a career that’s even more rewarding than the one she had in athletics.
“I was devastated at the time,” Davis said. “But I had to make an adult decision. Do I want to continue to chase and pursue this dream that I had had since I was 6? Or do I want to get my career started? I thought long and hard about it and I decided that it was okay.”
Davis got her masters in public health policy management at Emory University then went on a medical school. She began her residency earlier this summer in Dallas. She said it’s been tough but rewarding.
Dr. Davis is a perfect example of how athletics can help mold a person’s future,” said Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan. “The vast majority of those who compete at the high school, collegiate and amateur levels will never make it to the professional arena. But, as we’ve seen at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, so many of the competitors we’ve hosted through the years have moved on to achieve tremendous success in their chosen fields.
“Athletics teaches life skills as much as anything. That’s certainly one of the primary reasons we’re pleased to host a variety of events at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.”
If the medical gig wasn’t enough, Davis also enjoys hosting her own podcast, Brown Sugar and Spice Blog Radio.
“That’s my hobby because I don’t race anymore,” Davis said. “I do that as an outlet to get away from medicine to make sure I’m up to date on current events. We’ll tackle different topics. I’ve had former NFL players talking about life after football. We look at mental health issues and education topics like examining the retention rate of African-American males in the public school system. It’s something I really enjoy doing.”
Davis said she still enjoys watching track and field and works out to stay in shape. But, as she watched the recent Rio Olympics, she said there was no pining to be back competing on the track.
“That ship sailed long ago,” Davis said. “There are still some people I raced against from my age group who are competing. But a lot of the sprinters are young and up and coming. I still enjoy the sport and appreciate the athleticism and I know the hard work that goes into it. But absolutely no regrets on my end.”
From its earliest years, the Sugar Bowl Committee has been honored to provide opportunities for young athletes from around the country, athletes like Janice Davis. That’s because, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, We Believe in Champions.
– Story by Trey Iles