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Pascack Hills grad Evans carries on family tradition of playing sports

Pascack Hills grad Megan Evans, after a great career in high school, will continue her family’s sports tradition by attending Rutgers.

Since she was a kid, Megan Evans loved sports. However, basketball and volleyball were the two sports she wanted to continue playing in high school. “I started playing basketball in third grade and volleyball in sixth grade,” said Evans. “Playing volleyball at a later stage made me interested in learning more about the sport. I played club basketball since fifth grade. My Dad (Ted Evans) coached my elementary and middle school teams.”

Playing with her friends from Woodcliff Lake/Montvale growing up, Evans learned the art of competitiveness from her sister Mackenzie, who also played both basketball and volleyball. She also watched basketball battles in the driveway between Mackenzie and her older brother. “Everyone says how exactly we look alike, we started playing volleyball in our backyard and she taught me how to serve. I tried to play with them but never won, but it intrigued me and made me work harder and prepare me.”

When Evans reached Pascack Hills, the playing time did not occur right away in her first two seasons. She remained determined to stay in shape playing fall basketball and club volleyball. “Running in basketball helped me stay in shape and have the endurance to stay in an entire rally in volleyball. Basketball and volleyball favor tall people and the volleyball aspect is not much running as you do in basketball. It (volleyball) helped me with my jumping technique and working different muscles. Going into basketball season, I was running up and down the court the entire practice. My freshman year, I did not get into a varsity game and a few games my sophomore year.”

Recognizing the fact that she wanted to take her game to the next level, Evans put in the work going to the gym in the summertime. With her father, a volunteer coach on the basketball team, Evans spent an extra 45 minutes after practice with her Dad working on her jump shots.

“He has so much basketball knowledge, helped me improve as a player and did not give me any special treatment. I was learning to work for things and have nothing handed down. The fact he stayed there with me and put in the extra time goes to show you how supportive he was as a parent. Always sitting there in the front row on the sidelines and hearing his voice.”

Wrapping up her athletics career at Pascack Hills High School, Evans averaged a career-high 13.1 points in her senior season. She scored in double figures ten times during the regular season, including 26 points against Fort Lee. She earned First-Team All-League and Honorable Mention All-County in Basketball her senior year and Second-Team All-League In Volleyball. “I was a starter my junior and senior years and really did not want to end my career with any regrets. I didn’t want to be sitting around after the season saying wish I could have worked harder and done to achieve more.”

Evans pointed to the outstanding coaching jobs done by Varsity Basketball Head Coach Scott Ernest and Varsity Volleyball head Coach Lindsey Runge. “I have known Coach Ernest for a long time going to my sister’s games. It was fun playing for him. He cared so much about us. Once we started coming together as a team and having one team goal, he started putting all of his faith in us and he believed we could take it to another level. None of us played our freshman year and we had the best basketball season in seven years. I am proud of what we accomplished.”

“Bittersweet was the last basketball game we lost in the state playoff semifinals against Westwood, a team we had beaten before. In the fourth quarter, we were down by a certain amount of points and I knew we would be able to come back. In the last few minutes, Coach Ernest pulled the seniors off the court one by one and gave us the biggest hugs. I gave my Dad a hug on the sidelines. I never forgot how that felt just looking back on the season and how we grew and came full circle.”

“Coach Runge had very high expectations for us and all the seniors never wanted to disappoint her. She kept two words in mind, grit and passion. She made it very clear that she was our friend but at the same time our coach and wanted us to give our best effort all the time. The last game we lost in the state playoff semifinals. It was not a fun feeling when the ball hit the court, and our stomachs just dropped. We created such inseparable bonds. We were not sad the season was over with but that we were going to play with each other again.”

For Evans, it was not just about playing sports but learning how to be a leader on the court and remain focused on academics. “As a freshman, I always looked at the seniors and said they’re really good and one day I want to be in that role. Reaching the senior position, I didn’t want to boss the younger kids around but actually get them to realize sports means something and impacts your life. Schoolwork always came first, working on time management and putting the time in. There was a lot of support from faculty and they would ask how the season was going”

Now Evans will follow a similar pathway as her older sister Mackenzie in attending Rutgers University this fall and joining the rowing team.

“Starting a new sport is kind of scary for me in someway not knowing what to expect, but I got to watch Mackenzie as a rower. She would come home from practice on the weekends and tell me about her practice and I saw the blisters on her hands. Seeing it first hand inspired me to go out and try it myself. This past season seeing her success and many strong women on that team, I wanted to join that and I hope I can be a role model for someone one day.”

Supporting Evans will not only be her Dad but her Mom (Terri Evans) and grandmother. “My Mom has been very supportive. I remember when I played for the New Jersey Gym Rats and I was so scared playing for Head Coach Danny Brown. She motivated me to get through practice and always was a very good role model. Grandma had no idea what was going on during the games but rooting the loudest.”

Even with moving up to the college level, Evans had plenty of advice for younger athletes, especially in high school. “Make a goal and work for it. Sometimes you are not dealt the best cards but take whatever you can get and make the best out of anything. You’re not always going to have an undefeated season or reach the sectional finals but appreciate the small victories and make it more memorable.”

“Even if you did not win a lot, you grow as a team and achieve goals. Think in a positive way rather than negative. Sports is the best way to grow as a person and having four years in high school to play sports and see how far you have come.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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