WSAB _______________________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________

Socialize

ARTESIA PUNISHERS PITCHER EVANS SHOVES ASIDE HIGH SCHOOL ORDEAL, BECOMES STRONGER PERSON

PITCHER YAMILA EVANS of the Artesia Punishers graduated from San Marino High after playing in just two varsity games over her final two seasons due to multiple issues involving a new coaching staff. Evans will be attending Siena College on a softball scholarship. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS.

PITCHER YAMILA EVANS of the Artesia Punishers graduated from San Marino High after playing in just two varsity games over her final two seasons due to multiple issues involving a new coaching staff. Evans will be attending Siena College on a softball scholarship. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS.

 

BY LOREN KOPFF
@LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER

Yamila Evans was looking forward to bringing the same success to San Marino High as a junior and senior as she did at St. Monica Academy the previous two seasons. Instead, Evans, who is one of three pitchers for the Artesia Punishers 18-Under travel softball team, endured two frustrating seasons that she never thought would happen.

Evans played in only two games her senior season and did not play on the varsity team as a junior, but not by her choice. Her two years at San Marino were filled with lies, heartbreak, ridicule and at times, bullying by her coach, who coincidentally took over the San Marino program the same time Evans transferred. But before her days at San Marino, Evans immediately shined at St. Monica Academy.

Evans was a main force her freshman season, batting .557, scoring 52 runs and leading the Crusaders with 51 runs batted in. While in the circle, she went 19-1 and struck out 204 batters while walking only 20. The Crusaders went 21-2 and advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinals.

“My first impression of Yami was she’s a very strong player,” said Punishers head coach Bob Medina. “The athleticism is there, and I told Yami if she works hard every day, that she’s going to be somebody big. Yami has worked hard every day and she is like a role model to a lot of the girls because she does work hard every day, and we use her as an example.”

When she transferred to her new school, Evans recalled that there were no problems during fall and winter ball of her junior year. When tryouts began in late January or early February, Evans wanted to play on whatever team her younger sister, Malia, was on. At the time, Malia Evans was a sophomore catcher on the San Marino junior varsity team. It would have been the perfect story as the two sisters would be battery mates for two years. However, the older Evans was told she couldn’t play on the junior varsity team because it was a ‘safety issue’ and initially told that she couldn’t play softball in the program at all. But midway through the softball season, the coach asked to have a meeting with both sisters wanting them to play on the varsity team after all.

“I told him I didn’t want any problems with the girls or the team,” Evans remembered. “So, he had a vote and he asked the girls to vote on whether or not they wanted me on the varsity team after half a season.” 

Evans, who has been with the Punishers for three seasons, ended up playing on the junior varsity team for the second half of her junior season, something unusual for a player who had already verballed to a NCAA Division 1 school. But still, the thought of playing only the second half a season on a lower level squad was better than not playing at all.

“I was just glad to play,” Evans said. “All I wanted to do was play because that’s what my coaches wanted me to do; to continue playing and prepping. And, I had the best time on j.v. My sister and I and the [j.v.] coach and all those girls…it was really good.”

“At first, thought it was hard to believe,” said Yamila’s father, Barry. “As a coach myself in high school, you kind of put yourself in that position and think it’s not something that’s normal; it’s not something that’s right. You just don’t expect it.”

But as bad as her junior season was, Evans would not have any idea that her senior season would be worse. Just like the previous year, Evans went through the fall and winter without any problems. She said that because of the problems from the previous year, Malia felt obligated to go the extra effort to get the coach know that she deserves to be on varsity. In fact, the head coach told the sisters personally that it would be a new season and to forget about the previous season.

After tryouts, both sisters made varsity and the coach told Yamila he wanted her to lead the team. During the first weekend of the regular season in which Evans played in her only two games of the season, she stopped pitching the way she had been pitching in the past because she had heard that one of the new assistant varsity coaches said she didn’t like the way Evans was pitching, i.e. her technique and style. At point, according to Evans, the assistant coach called her a demeaning word and Evans let her know that it wasn’t right. She would question Evans about her wearing her Punishers gear during practices.

So, Evans called the head coach to ask him what was going on and was told he would address the situation later. The coaches said that she and her sister couldn’t warm-up together or practice together even though the siblings had been playing together for five years prior to her senior season. The coaches also told Evans not to hit the ball hard and on one occasion, told her, ‘you may make an appearance one or two times out of the whole season when we really want to win’.

“She told me about a coach that came from another program that had a problem,” Medina said. “She heard through coaches that had problems already and then he ended up going to [San Marino] and I believe they had problems there also.”

After Evans, who will be going to Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., was told that she would only get a few appearances on varsity. She offered to play on junior varsity so she could stay in shape and get more playing time, but the school again said she couldn’t do that because it was a safety hazard. Evans tried to plead her case, saying that there were other senior athletes who didn’t make the varsity team that were playing on the junior varsity team.

“I was really stressed out because I had committed to play Division 1 softball and I had to let my [college] coaches know I’m not playing because my [high school] coaches said I couldn’t be in the program,” Evans said. “That’s a lot of stress, just trying to get out there and practice and staying for travel was so difficult. It’s hard to walk around school when you know girls are voting you off the team. 

“The coach told me that the girls voted [again] to not have me on the team because I was a liar and a bad teammate,” she continued. “I [had] classes with almost all those girls and we’re friends outside of school. So, how could he say that?”

Evans said it definitely took a toll on her high school softball experience. She had coaches from other teams asking why is a Division 1 player on j.v? She found it hard explaining that the varsity coach didn’t want both sisters on varsity. While the San Marino athletic director knew what was going on, the principal didn’t find out until the beginning of April when Evans went to watch a varsity game and was asked by the junior varsity coach to throw batting practice. Not even 10 minutes into her throwing session, the athletic director told Evans, ‘this shouldn’t be happening’. At that point, the junior varsity coach questioned that decision. Simultaneously, the varsity game was going on and the head coach texted the junior varsity coach to end practice immediately. The athletic director proceeded to tell Evans she had to leave the field.

The next day, some of the players told Evans that the head coach had asked the players if they felt intimidated by Evans’ presence at the field.

“After I talked to the principal, they had an investigation and the coach denied everything,” Evans said. “He said I made up every story. He’s calling me a liar, and this has made me a better person because it’s made me stronger, knowing that I’m trying to help out, not only myself keeping in shape, but I want to help out the other girls. I have girls still come to me from the team asking for training sessions to help them, and I do it all for free because I love the sport. It’s made me more confident and helped me stick up for myself and know what’s right and wrong.”

“Sure, there’s the all-star games, there’s the awards and those are personal achievements that you get from the time and work that you put in,” Barry Evans said. “So, as a parent, that’s disappointing knowing how much time she puts in. And I think with her, it was hard seeing her teammates posting things on social media [like], ‘hey, we beat our rival this week’ and knowing the impact that she would have had.”

The varsity coaches would later apologize for the way they handled the situation, but the damage was already done. They said they thought she and her sister should have been put on varsity at the beginning. Still, the two siblings played varsity volleyball and soccer together at San Marino.

“I never really had problems with the girls, which is crazy because he claimed that everyone was not on good terms with me,” Evans said. “I’m one of the only students at my high school that’s going to play Division 1 sports. Everyone knew that I was playing j.v. and [I] would hear comments like, ‘what are they thinking’?

“They had never been to the playoffs in five-plus years,” Evans continued. “I told [the coach], don’t you want to win league? When was the last time San Marino won league? When was the last time they went to CIF?”

Evans, who has only played for the Punishers outside of the high school season, has been a main fixture in the pitching rotation for the past three seasons. When she’s not in the circle, in which she shares with Kristen Lucas and DeAndria Lockett, she is patrolling one of the outfield positions.

“I’m sad for a kid who has to go through anything like that,” Medina said. “I’m sad for anybody who has to go through anything that makes their life difficult because I believe…she has great grades, she’s going to college, she works hard every day. To have somebody throw a wrench inside the engine, it doesn’t run right.

“I honestly think the type of person that Yami is, it’s hard to really put her down or push her one step behind,” he later said. “She’s always going to strive to win. She works too hard on anything. She’s going to be very successful one day in life; she’s going to be very successful 20 years from now.”

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of