PULASKI, Tenn. – Samantha Davenport is perhaps best known for her relentless energy as a defensive specialist for the Martin Methodist Volleyball team.

However, in addition to her prowess on the court, Davenport has been just as relentless in her commitment to working with The American Red Cross.

Davenport, a junior from Charlotte, Tennessee, spent last summer in Washington DC alongside 11 other student-athletes as part of the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program. The program chose 12 of the brightest student-athletes in the NAIA and helps pair them with one of the most iconic humanitarian organizations on the planet.

As part of her commitment to The American Red Cross, Davenport was required to organize and lead blood drives on campus this year.

And after helping pace the Volleyball team to a record-breaking season of its own (the RedHawks were co-Runner Ups in the Southern States Athletic Conference for the first time in program history), Davenport wanted to set another record during her most recent blood drive.

The American Red Cross showed their faith in Davenport and the RedHawk community when they donated the organization’s Power Red donation equipment. Power Red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow donors to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to the donor.

“We had a very nice turnout at the fall blood drive and we just wanted to challenge our campus to help set a record,” Davenport said. “The American Red Cross answered our challenge by sending down the Power Red machine. That was a huge sign of their faith in our program. We were so excited at the turnout.”

The drive exceeded expectations as the RedHawks not only matched their goal of 40 units donated, but they exceeded it with 42 units donated. 48 participants registered, but six were not able to physically donate.

“It was just unreal to see everyone come together and support this last drive,” Davenport said. “Our athletic programs, especially Softball, really got involved and helped make this push successful. Our Athletic Department as a whole did a fantastic job of promoting the event. Our Student Government Association and (Dean of Campus Life) Dr. Daniel McMasters were a huge help in terms of delivering and spreading the message to the rest of campus with fliers and e-mails. Thanks to everyone that helped make this event so successful!”

Those that donated blood not only helped save lives, but they were rewarded for their participation with a pair of complimentary movie tickets to The Martin Movie Theater.

And one lucky participant, Jessie Ray, a junior Biology major from Waynesboro, Tennessee, was drawn at random to win a grand prize. Ray won gift cards to Wal-Mart and Legends Steakhouse and a coveted Martin Methodist Faculty/Staff parking permit.

“This was my second time to help support the blood drives on campus,” Ray said. “Samantha and I are friends and have a few classes together. To see her set a goal and then achieve it as she did was really special. I would have been happy enough with the two movie tickets, but when they called my name as the grand prize winner, I could hardly believe it.”

“It was no surprise to see the quality work, organization, and passion that Samantha put into this year’s Red Cross leadership campaign on our campus,” RedHawks Executive Director of Athletics Jeff Bain said. “The leadership skills that she brought to the blood drives are great examples of what can happen when a person is not afraid to lead outside of their comfort zone. Before Samantha engaged in the Red Cross leadership summit last summer, she had never even been a blood donor previously. To now see her not only lead a record breaking drive is a great joy and very rewarding.”

Davenport, who will be a senior next season, hopes to continue to not only to raise numbers during her blood drives, but also possibly help the RedHawks continue to reach new heights on the volleyball court.

“It is kind of crazy how these two things have sort of paralleled one another,” Davenport said. “We started out with a few basic goals and have just continued to work toward them. Whether it has been my teammates and I working together toward a successful turnaround season last fall or my classmates and I working together toward record (blood drive) enrollment, it has been a lot of fun. I cannot wait for next fall.”

Martin Methodist College

433 West Madison St.
Pulaski, TN 38478