Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Evans Verbally Commits to Saint Michael's

Over the past seven years, we've run dozens of stories breaking the news of NH athletes accepting scholarships to play in college. None of them had greater obstacles to overcome than Casey Evans.

Evans was born with Craniosynostosis, which was a result of plates of her skull being fused together before she was born. She had one surgery when she was just 6 months old, another surgery at age 2 and another surgery 3 years ago, just before her sophomore season at Londonderry. She also underwent eye surgery to repair double vision, has had to deal with constant migraines, has suffered from short and long term memory loss as well as learning disabilities.

Yet here is Evans, one of the top girls basketball players in the region and now committed to Saint Michael's College on a basketball scholarship. The fact that she has overcome everything that she has health-wise and still get there is remarkable. Evans is proof that with perseverance and determination, anything is possible.

"I’m still a case study at Boston Children’s Hospital" Evans told the NH Notebook. "I had my last cranial surgery at the end of my sophomore year and that corrected all the migraines and headaches. The next surgery was on my eyes which came at the end of my junior year. The eye surgery corrected the double vision, which made it difficult at times to focus. All seems to be corrected, I am doing well physically. No more goggles!"

Evans is a tough, physical 5-foot-11 forward. She can score and rebound inside, muscle opposing bigs on the block and run the floor well. She also has a developing face-up game. Evans was a three year starter for Londonderry High, helping the Lancers win the D-I girls basketball title in 2014. She transferred to the St. Andrew's School prior to her senior year, reclassifying to the Class of 2016. She has scored over 1,000 career points. Evans was a NEPSAC all-star last winter, and is now getting ready for her senior year.

"After visiting numerous NE-10 schools St. Michael's just felt right" Evans explained. "It was a comforting feeling. A small school where you are more than a number. People actually show an interest in you and your future; what comes after your 4 years of school and basketball. The school is very similar to St. Andrews in many ways."

Evans' decision came down to a pair of Northeast-10 schools - Saint Michael's and Southern Connecticut.

"We had visited Southern Conn and received an offer there in early August" Evans continued. "I really loved Coach Kate Lynch; she was awesome. I could see myself going there and playing for her. Then we had received a call that St. Mike's was interested and wanted to meet with us. We went to visit St. Michael's on August 19th. My family and I visited the campus, met with professors, admissions folks and of course the coaches. It felt like St. Andrew's where everyone really seems to care for their students and athletes. I loved all the people we met at St. Michael's and felt a strong bond developing with them. A small school with an enclosed campus which is what I was looking for. The small school offers a great sense of community. Everyone knows you. There are many different activities I can get involved with from community service, traveling abroad, etc. I felt that connection with Coach Kynoch and Asst Coach Lozeau which is important. I like what they said when we chatted and where they want to be in the future with their program. I want to be a part of that. Another benefit is the beautiful city of Burlington, VT. I look forward to the challenges ahead and wearing the uniform of the Purple Knights!"

Evans has been on the radar of college coaches for a few years now, but it wasn't until this past AAU season when her recruitment really picked up, resulting in the scholarship offers.

"I had a great time playing this season with MCW Starz Elite for AAU" said Evans. "I had been really working on my face up game over the past year, and it seemed to all come together for me this season. I felt I was always strong down low in the block but needed the other piece. Now with both pieces in place I can be a threat inside and out. AAU also became fun again for me this season with MCW. I felt my best tournament of the year was Chicago. I felt DC was strong for me as well. I will say that some team parents said I really shined in Chicago. I had early interest from Southern Conn, plus other NE-10 schools but it really picked up After DC. I had also received some calls from a few D1 schools inquiring, but I felt the NE-10 would suit me better (the size of the school). Also numerous D3 schools have been in contact with me."

Evans has made her decision, verbally committing to Saint Michael's. Now she can focus on having a great senior year at St. Andrew's, both on and off the court. Moving forward though she should be looked at as a role model to younger players coming up. Her story is truly an inspiration.

"I am not going to lie it has been really tough past few years" Evans concluded. "I felt as I nothing as going right for me. I was working on my game, hard every day and still felt like nothing was going right. I love basketball; I work hard practicing and preparing to play. I was looking for results with colleges and was getting frustrated that I hadn’t had anyone’s interest. But one thing kept me going, believing and having faith. This was with the support of my family and my coaches. They pushed me and I pushed myself. People like my mom and Art, TJ Thompson, Kara Leary, Coach Fagula and Mandy Zegarowski pushed me hard to be the best I could be. I have to give special thanks to Mandy for her help both on and off the court. Mandy was the one who reached out to me about St. Andrew's. She told us how much it helped her son, Michael Carter-Williams and felt I would thrive there - and I DID! Mandy was so positive with me and the skills I have. It was this push that made me want to get better, stronger and say to myself 'I can do it!' My family has always taught me that I could do anything and never to give up. Since I was a little girl, I never gave up. People would say things to me; 'you can’t, you won’t' but I never listened to them. It actually challenged me and pushed me more to succeed. Whether you have a physical disability or learning disability you can do whatever you put your mind to!"

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