Former South Carolina sprinter and six-time NCAA Champion Demetria (Washington) Davis (1999-2003) has always been known as “Mama Dee.” It’s only appropriate that she now has a big family of her own for her to watch over and for them to see her be inducted into the University South Carolina Association of Lettermen’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I was really excited,” Davis said about hearing the news. “(Athletics Director) Coach (Ray) Tanner called and told me. I was so humbled. He made my day!
“When I was on the team at South Carolina, they called me ‘Mama Dee.’ I would take teammates to the store, and I was always making sure they had things that they needed. People still call me that today. I play flag football now, and some of the women call me that.”
Davis is the mother of Keana (Turner) (29), Christian (21), Darren (19), Britton (14), and Regan Lilly (8). She’s also a grandmother who currently lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she has her own business as a private chef and caterer. She and her husband, Christopher, are also pastors and are very involved in their community.
“I’ve always cooked, and that’s another reason they called me ‘Mama Dee,’” Davis said. “I’ve been cooking since I was eight years old. I just love it.”
After cooking some meals while entertaining some of their fellow pastors a few years back, a colleague suggested she start her own business.
“It took off! I started by thinking I was only going to do private dinners for maybe 25 people or less. Then it went 50 or less, and now I’ve cooked for as many as 300 people. It gives me an adrenaline rush as if I were running. How I felt when I was running, and I was focused, that’s how I am when I’m cooking.”
“Winning the World Championship gold medal is also one of my favorite memories because I got the gold medal, and my dad (James Washington) was there with me in Paris. He recently passed away, so that’s a highlight for me because I was able to share that with my father.”
Oh, and she was cooking on the track back in the day! She specialized in the 400 meters, and in addition to being a six-time NCAA Champion, she was part of the South Carolina women’s outdoor track and field team that won the 2002 NCAA championship, the first team title in any sport for the Gamecocks. Her 21 All-American honors remain the most in school history, and she was recognized as the 2002 National Indoor Athlete of the Year. Washington was part of the 4×4 relay team that posted a time of 3:26.46, which stood as the fastest time in Gamecock history for 20 years until 2022.
Following graduation, she was a gold medalist on the United States’ 2003 4×4 relay team at the World Championships and won the silver medal in the open 400 at the USA Outdoor Championships.
“I would say the 21 All-American honors was one of the highlights of my career because it’s a school record,” Davis said. “Winning the World Championship gold medal is also one of my favorite memories because I got the gold medal, and my dad (James Washington) was there with me in Paris. He recently passed away, so that’s a highlight for me because I was able to share that with my father.
“My best memories of my days on campus were the camaraderie with my teammates and being at the Russell House. You go to class, and then you go to the Russell House for lunch. You really got to mingle and hang out with your friends, and you’d meet new people.”
“Mama Dee” was named Mrs. South Carolina International 2021 and more recently, the 2022 North Carolina Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc.
“I compete in pageants sometimes, and one of my bucket list items was to compete in a ‘Mrs.’ pageant,” Davis said. “I was named Mrs. South Carolina International 2021, and I went on to the international competition with more than 50 women from over 50 countries. I got first runner-up for Mrs. International. At the pageant, I guess the ‘Mama Dee’ in me came out, and I just love helping people, so one of the ladies within in the organization nominated me (for North Carolina Mother of the Year) because she said I was so much like a mom with all the other women the way I would try to help them with different things.”
Davis still tries to stay in shape the best she can, and every once in a while, she’s not afraid to show off her skills.
“I haven’t raced anybody in a while,” Davis said. “When my son, Britton, was 10, we raced, and I beat him. He thought it was a joke, but I was stretching beforehand, going through drills, and warming up. I got down in the stance and took off. He has been looking for a rematch here lately, so I think we’re going to have to do it.”
Mama Dee is excited to bring her family back to campus for Hall of Fame Weekend so she can show them where she first earned her nickname, among many other accolades.
“I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with my family,” Davis said. “All of my church family will be coming, too. I’m looking forward to seeing any of my teammates who will be there and (former) Coach Curtis Frye. If my dad were here, I know he would be so happy!”