Magazine Features

A Beacon of Light

abeaconoflight_ins1Terrel Davis uses his knees for more than long jumping at the University of Hartford. He also uses them for prayer.

“Every night before I have a meet, I pray God keeps me safe, no one on my team gets hurt, and the meet goes smoothly,” Davis says. “I let Him take it from there.”

That pattern has worked well for Davis, who was a track standout at Beacon High School in Beacon, N.Y., where he excelled in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump. He earned a scholarship to the University of Hartford, where he is preparing for his freshman season.

While growing up, Davis faithfully attended the Beacon Salvation Army Corps and was involved in Corps Cadets. He also played in the corps band and in the Greater New York Youth Band.

Davis said his mother’s parents discovered The Salvation Army in the Virgin Islands. Attending church there became a family tradition.

Finding his niche

“My mother told us about The Salvation Army. I’ve been going since I was young,” Davis said. “We had a really strong group of teens.”

Lieutenant Josué Alarcon, who was Davis’ youth pastor at the time but is now the corps officer in Beacon, remembers him being quite active.

“He loved God and being part of the corps,” Alarcon said. “He loved competition.”

Davis and his mother, Cheryl, are both senior soldiers at the Beacon Corps.

“Growing up, Terrel dedicated himself to God,” Cheryl Davis said. “Anything they ask him to do at the corps, he does it.”

Cheryl Davis said her son began playing sports at a young age, such as track and soccer. She described him as both dedicated and hard working.

“He’s a perfectionist,” she said of her son. “That’s him. That’s what drives him. He wants to do better every time.”

High praise

In 2015, Terrel Davis earned a state championship in the indoor long jump. He recently finished 6th at the 2016 non–Scholastic New Balance Nationals Indoor.

The track season for Davis and his University of Hartford teammates began on Dec. 3.

abeaconoflight_ins2Richard Warren, the track and field coach at the University of Hartford, said on the college’s website ( that Davis set personal bests last year in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump.

“Terrel is one of the most gifted jumpers I have seen in quite some time,” Warren said in announcing the signing of Davis. “Combined with his athleticism, Terrel is driven and humble.”

Davis’ athleticism also extends to other sports; he was a Section 1 honorable mention All–Star for the Beacon High School soccer team.

Davis said he got the itch for track by watching Tejorn, his brother, perform the high jump. Davis went to his first state finals as a sophomore.

“My coach told me I definitely had a lot of talent so he wanted to develop me,” Davis said. “When I was first starting out, I used to watch a lot of videos on YouTube and try to perfect my form.”

Life adjustment

Davis would also make videos of his jumps and send them to Tejorn and Tariq, his other brother, so they could offer pointers.

Davis said he has tried to emulate Marquis Dendy and Christian Taylor, two outstanding jumpers.

Davis, who is away from home for the first time attending college, is majoring in architectural engineering. Prior to college, attending Star Lake Camp had been his longest time away from home.

On Sundays, he attends The Army’s Manchester, Conn. Corps.

Davis said he also prays daily.

“I’m just trying to stay focused on God and schoolwork,” he said.

Major James C. Kisser, who was the corps officer in Beacon during Davis’ formative years, is sure he will do fine in college. Kisser said his association with the star athlete was “one of my great joys as a corps officer.”

A humble spirit

“I found him to be a gifted young man who was confident and self–assured, yet at the same time, humble and unassuming,” Kisser said.

Kisser said he would often find out about Davis’ latest athletic accomplishment at senior band practice on Thursday nights at the corps.

“These feats of athletic prowess were usually recounted quietly by Terrel with an almost shy smile,” Kisser recalls.

Kisser said his wife, Captain Deborah Kisser, challenged Davis to become a Salvation Army officer someday.

“Terrel is an excellent example of youthful Salvationism,” Kisser said. “His Christian witness is characterized by quiet lifestyle evangelism, accentuated by an engaging sense of humor.

“I’m certain he’ll do great things on the collegiate level.”

by Robert Mitchell

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