Panther Ely Evanson gets past obstacles

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2002

The Skyview football team's 32-0 victory over Homer during the 2000 season is not only a good example of how senior Ely Evanson's difficulty hearing can be a problem.

It's also an example of how Evanson overcame that problem to have a successful high school athletic career.

"We were playing Homer, and there was nobody on one of my receivers," Evanson said. "Coach (Wade Marcuson) was yelling at me and I didn't hear him.

"It's just small things like that. I just have to be more aware and make sure things like that don't happen."

Splitting time at quarterback that game, however, Evanson overcame that bump and still hit two of his three passes for 82 yards and one touchdown.

"I think that has been an obstacle, but it's one he's definitely overcome," Evanson's mother, Sue, said. "He really plays it down.

"He's deaf in his left ear, and he has moderate hearing loss in the other ear."

Evanson, who plays football, soccer and baseball, said a large deal of credit for overcoming the hearing difficulties has to go to his teammates.

"It's hard to deal with, but my teammates have learned to help me out," Evanson said. "They help me out so much I don't even notice it sometimes."

Coaches also have been equally helpful to Evanson.

"A lot of times we talk to the referees and let them know what's going on," Skyview soccer coach Dave Carpenter said. "If things get loud and exciting, a lot of the time he's not going to hear the whistle.

"We provide his number and say, 'He's not a mean kid, he just may honestly never hear the whistle.'"

While Carpenter jokes that sometimes Evanson may use the hearing difficulty to be a little "selective," Marcuson also lauded Evanson for the way he handled the hearing difficulty.

"By no means has he ever made an excuse of it," the coach said. "He doesn't even want people to know about it.

"Just overcoming it is a huge achievement right there."

But Evanson's achievements don't stop there.

As a junior, Evanson threw for 471 yards and six touchdowns in being named to the first team of the Northern Lights Conference.

As a senior, Evanson tied for the conference lead by passing for 553 yards and seven touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the big expectations put on Skyview as a team did not pan out for Evanson during his senior year.

The team was picked by many to be tops in the conference. After a 3-1 start, however, the squad stumbled to a 4-4 record and missed the playoffs.

"I do feel like it was a letdown," Evanson said of his senior year in football. "We failed to live up to expectations.

"I learned a lot. It takes hard work to keep playing well after you've started the season playing well. You have to keep living up to those expectations."

Marcuson gave Evanson credit for never letting the situation get him down, and for always doing everything he could to help the team.

"They didn't beat SoHi, and he was sick that day," said Evanson's father, John. "He had an ear infection, and it made him feel like he was seasick.

"That's kind of a hurdle for a quarterback, but he did what he could to help the team anyway."

Evanson is hoping he can carry those lessons over into soccer season this year. He started the sport in eighth grade, when Carpenter, also a teacher at Soldotna Middle School, noted his athleticism.

"I was really surprised when they made him a quarterback," Carpenter said of Evanson. "I figured he was a big, strong lineman, but he does have all of that coordination with his size.

"I think that tells you what type of athlete he is."

Carpenter took that athleticism and plugged Evanson into the stopper position. As Evanson's skills with the ball improved, he saw varsity time both his sophomore and junior years.

"His skills with the ball have been improving every year, and sometimes his dribbling can even get him into trouble," Carpenter said. "But, in his bag of tricks now, he's got three or four neat ways to create some space.

"He's been one of those kids who has to learn how to play less physical, because he's so physical to begin with."

While Evanson said he has enjoyed playing football and soccer for his high school, he says his favorite sport is baseball.

Evanson has been playing baseball since he was 6 years old. A student with a 3.0 grade point average, he would like to go on and play baseball in college.

"I was always the big kid, so they put me at catcher," Evanson said. "I ended up liking it a lot."

Evanson was on Soldotna Little League teams that won state twice, and took district four times. Last season, he played for the Post 20 Peninsula Twins on varsity.

In addition to playing sports, Evanson loves the hiking, fishing, camping and hunting opportunities in Alaska. When he was 13, he bagged a 59-inch moose on the Yukon River.

"I used to take him to work with me when I was working on a lake," said John, who is a contractor. "He'd fish for eight hours, and I'd work for eight hours.

"Most kids would get tired and bored, but he would just sit there all day."

Carpenter, who also notes Evanson has a nice sense of humor, said what makes him likable is that he's a solid young man. To illustrate this, Carpenter points to a comment Evanson made about the promising freshmen on this year's Skyview soccer squad.

"He's a very sincere kid," Carpenter said. "By taking time out from talking about himself to talk about those freshmen, you can tell he cares about others.

"He's one of those mature people who will shake your hand and look you right in the eye."

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