Illini of the Week Feb. 16: Nicole Evans

By Tatiania Perry , Staff writer

In her four years as an Illinois softball outfielder, Nicole Evans has made quite the name for herself: leader, teammate, friend, and sometimes even “Nickel” — because her mom’s name is Penny.

Evans played in 41 games as a freshman, starting in 32 of them primarily in the right field. In her sophomore season she started in all 53 games, appearing in the left field. In her junior year she went back to right field, starting in all 59 games. Now as a senior, she is once again in the left.

Evans said her movement depends on her fellow teammates’ positions and who can best gel with the centerfielder.

“You need to have a really strong arm to throw them out at first and in the left you have to have a lot of range,” Evans said. “It’s a lot of coaching decisions that I am happy I don’t have to make.”

Even though she’s happy she isn’t a coach, Evans is still looked at as a leader, especially for her communication.

“I have a big mouth when we are playing, but off the field I’m involved in the Student Athletic Advisory Commission and have  done a few things in the community,” Evans said. “Leading by example in that way is one of the best things I can do for the team.”

Growing up Evans had always been part of an athletics in one way or another.

Her father, Kevin Evans, played basketball at the former Marycrest College, rocking the number 40 — a number she now proudly wears. Her step-father Dave Weinstein played tennis at Illinois in 1978.

Being part of an athletic family, Evans also played soccer, which she said was too much running, volleyball and softball.

Growing up with six brothers, Evans thinks of her team as a second family and has finally found the sisterhood she wanted.

“They are definitely a group of people unlike any I have ever experienced,” Evans said. “I am really thankful for that.”

However, it isn’t just the team that is family, it’s the entire athletic program, which she said is central to the meaning of being an Illini.

She said that she gets around six texts from former Illini and alumni fans before each game.

Along with the texts, Evans gets into the game mode with her music, even it is just two seconds of each song she said. On her playlist, the go to artists are J. Cole and the Black Eye Peas, specifically “Let’s Get It Started.”

This weekend, Evans will be listening to that playlist as the team heads to California to compete in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

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