Hunt grad Evans ready for ‘different experience’ playing volleyball at Chowan

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Kimberly Evans proved to be a reliable back-line player and libero for her Hunt High volleyball team as well as for the Wilson Elite Volleyball Club team for the past four years.

She’s taking those qualities, along with a dash of daredevil spirit, to the next level after signing her National Letter of Intent last week to play at Chowan University, which will join the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas this upcoming year.

“It’s going to be a different experience,” Evans said. “They’re in the weight room three times a week so it’s just going to be a different experience that I’m looking forward to.”

The daughter of Lisa and Johnny Evans of Lucama, Evans said that she was offered an athletic scholarship by Division  III program Piedmont International in Winston-Salem and was recruited by several other schools, including Division III programs North Carolina Wesleyan College and Hollins University. However, choosing the Hawks wasn’t hard for Evans.

“Well, I just feel comfortable at Chowan,” Evans said. “Everyone there was really nice and they were just like a big welcoming family. It’s closer to home, too, so I like being able to come home and everything. 

“It’s a prettier campus and they have everything I’m looking for. They have a bunch of clubs and activities.”

An outstanding student with a 4.25 weighted GPA at Hunt, where she belonged to the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and was the president of DECA, the recent graduate said she was also getting two academic scholarships from Chowan. Evans said she is one of 22 incoming freshmen at Chowan invited to the National Honors College program.

She said that she was originally recruited last fall by former Hawks coach Chris Guerra, who left Chowan after just one season. But his replacement, Jackie Buchanan, continued her recruitment and offered her a chance to play for the Hawks a couple of months ago.

She helped Hunt win the 3-A Big East Conference regular-season and tournament championships as a junior in 2016. The Lady Warriors finished second in the Big East last fall but returned to the state playoffs.

Mike Newman, Evans’ assistant coach for Wilson Elite, said that her best quality was her instincts on the court.

“She’s quick but she also has really good court instincts — knowing where the ball’s at and knowing where the ball’s going to be,” he said.

Lindsay Sutton, the Wilson Elite head coach, seconded that notion.

“She’s a natural athlete and has a good read for the court,” Sutton said. “She’s always watching the ball and moving her feet and her hands are kind of like a magnet, so anywhere that ball’s going to go, she’s going to get to it.”

That willingness to get to it sometimes came at a cost for Evans, who always wore her trademark American flag bandanna in matches.

“We used to call her ‘Kamikaze Kim’ because if the ball was anywhere in the gymnasium, she was going to try to get it,” Newman said. “Several times with not such good results either!”

Evans grinned and listed the injuries that she had incurred by sacrificing her body to get to the ball.

She assured that she doesn’t plan to change her style of play at the collegiate level. But Evans said that she is going to get back in the swing since she hasn’t played much since her Wilson Elite season ended in April.

“I’m going to have to get in shape, I know that,” she said. “Since travel ended, I’ve just kind of relaxed.”

While she’s as confident of her ability on the court as she is in the classroom, Evans admitted, “I’m a little nervous but everyone’s going to be a little nervous when they first go in. But I feel that as soon as I get there and get to play, the nerves will kind of go down. That’s like every first game, you have the nerves because you don’t know what to expect but as soon as you get in there, the nerves go down and you get into your role and you just go right along with it.”