Isaiah Davis-Allen Optimistic About Bayhawks’ Chances Heading Into 2020 MLL Season

Major League Lacrosse will hold a nine-day season in Annapolis, Md. running from July 18-26, and Isaiah Davis-Allen of the defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks says he has been preparing for the past few months and is excited for the opportunity to play again.

MLL players will train at Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium July 16-17 prior to the first day of competition July 18. The Bayhawks and Philadelphia Barrage will face off at 1 p.m. to kick off the season.

Davis-Allen, who won the 2017 NCAA men’s lacrosse championship at Maryland, changed his training routine about two months ago, shifting his focus from lifting to running in order to prepare for what was likely to be a short, intense season. (Each team will play five regular-season games from July 18-24.) He also cut back on unhealthy foods and paid more attention to his diet.

Davis-Allen lives in Baltimore, and several of his teammates live in the area, too. Davis-Allen worked out with his fellow Bayhawks leading up to the truncated season, which allowed them to build cohesion before heading to Annapolis. He feels confident about the Bayhawks’ chances going into the unconventional 2020 season.

“For me being in Baltimore City, it’s easy. Most of my teammates are pretty close. So, if we want to have a workout in a small group, that makes it easy to start to build some kind of chemistry,” Davis-Allen said on Glenn Clark Radio July 14. “And then really, it just comes down to film study and prep, and we’ve done a lot of that. Our coaching staff does a great job of getting us the film. … For the young guys, it’s going to be a big transition, and it’s going to happen fast, so they have to study up.”

When the league announced its plans to play the 20th season entirely in Annapolis July 2, it also announced several policies as part of a plan to ensure the safety of the players and personnel. Players and staff will be in a “bubble” at The Westin once they arrive in Annapolis, and they will not be allowed to leave unless they are going on runs or going to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Davis-Allen, 25, played for Maryland from 2014-2017 and served as a team captain for the 2017 title team. A 6-foot-3, 180-pound short-stick defensive midfielder, Davis-Allen is entering his fourth season with the Bayhawks. He said players have had conversations about the importance of these safety measures, and they know that following the rules is essential for the season to take place as planned.

“[Safety] is extremely important. I think that once everyone’s there, it’s not that difficult,” Davis-Allen said. “That conversation really started two weeks ago, just making sure that guys are trying to stay as quarantined as possible. The weeks leading up are the times that people are at the biggest risk.”

For the first part of the season, MLL will be the only team sport on the airwaves. MLB is set to open July 23, and the NBA and NHL will resume their seasons about a week later. MLL games will be aired nationally on ESPN networks and ESPN+.

Davis-Allen views this as an opportunity to put the spotlight on professional lacrosse.

“I think it’s very important to try to get our sport more in the mainstream,” Davis-Allen said. “In the past, it’s been such a niche sport, and having it on national television — whether it’s my league or the [NLL or PLL] — I think it’s all positive.”

Preparing for the MLL season hasn’t been the only thing on Davis-Allen’s mind. Since the death of George Floyd, many professional athletes have spoken out about issues regarding racial inequality in the United States and in their respective sports as well.

As a Black player in a league with mostly white players, Davis-Allen says he feels a responsibility to call out instances of racism in the league. He said he often has to deal with microaggressions, which he used to ignore. But now he feels that more needs to be done and that people of color shouldn’t tolerate such instances.

“I think the big thing with this movement for us specifically in my sport is the fact that now people aren’t going to let small microaggressions slide,” he said. “I’ve seen some people get called out already, and that’s something that our sport definitely needs to get better at. That’s something that I think us players of color have had to spearhead and stop accepting certain kinds of behavior.”

Davis-Allen said he thinks MLL has a long way to go in terms of eliminating overt and subtle forms of discrimination. He sees himself as an advocate for education and doesn’t think that the problems can be fixed unless those in question learn why what they are doing isn’t acceptable.

“I think for me, it’s more trying to educate people. Before, by me tolerating it, I was just accepting it and people weren’t learning,” Davis-Allen said. “I feel like a lot of people in our sport don’t interact with a lot of people of color on a daily basis. So, a lot of them don’t know what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

For more from Davis-Allen, listen to the full interview here:

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