Members of the community rally to celebrate the life of Evelyn Andrews
When Evelyn Andrews came to Humboldt State University, she had already beaten cancer once. In her senior year of high school, Andrews successfully fought off lymphoma and made the decision to redshirt her freshman year to recover fully. She expected to be back on the field for her sophomore season.
Things changed in late September when a bad hop at practice hit Andrews in the face, causing continuous bleeding. After spending time at Mad River Hospital, Andrews went to University of California, Davis, where she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia.
Andrews underwent chemo treatment and beat leukemia. Following the treatment, she went back to the hospital for 10 days due to a blood infection that caused additional blood clots throughout her body. Andrews died after being taken off life support Feb. 17.
Roommate and teammate Morgan Brant took Andrews to the hospital after the injury at practice and knew her since they were both 12 years old.
“It crushed her to redshirt her freshman year,” Brant said. “She was just the type of person to put her head down and work and to get the job done. She was always there. She gave you the brutal truth even if you didn’t want to hear it. But you then found out that it was coming from a place of love and a place of compassion. She wanted the best for everybody.”
Brant said that this was even more clear knowing Andrews off the field.
“She would just go into a room and light it up,” Brant said. “She had the best sense of humor. She had the best smile and she was just like everybody has said, like a ray of sunshine. She really held a lot of love for everybody in her heart.”
One thing Andrews brought to the team that has been embraced by the whole organization has been a ‘Don’t Suck’ mentality. Brant said this is something that originally came from Andrews’ family and spread to the rest of the team.
“It was kind of like a thing that they said when she was struggling at bat,” Brant said. “She said it to Shelli one time and it just kind of became her thing. It was her thing since she was little kid and it just kind of stuck with the team and it showed that brutal honesty. Don’t suck as a person, don’t suck as a player and then you’re going to be successful.”
Head Softball Coach Shelli Sarchett said the ‘Don’t Suck’ mentality has really been accepted by the whole team, especially when Andrews began cancer treatment for the second time.
“Once this happened to her we adopted it as a team,” Sarchett said. “It doesn’t mean don’t suck, don’t be afraid to lose. It just means go out there and give your best. And even if your best isn’t good enough at that time, doesn’t mean that you did wrong.”
As her coach, Sarchett also observed Andrew’s ability to be caring and honest with people as she interacted with her teammates.
“She was the first person to hug you when you were down and the first person to kick you in the ass when you needed it,” Sarchett said. “She was a role model pretty much and she’s a superhero in our books. She’s a fighter and I think we could all take a little bit from Evelyn and learn about her spirit and use it to our advantage and to help us be better people.”
Another thing that stood out to Sarchett was how much Andrews cared for the people around her, whether that was her parents and brother or her teammates.
“She loved her family,” Sarchett said. “It was all about family for her. Whether it be her actual family or her softball family. She defines that sense of family, that culture that we want here when it comes to family and she’s the daughter that everybody should want. If my daughters have half the heart she does, I’ve done pretty well.”
Sarchett also said she had never been through anything like this before, but the support from Humboldt State Athletics and the softball community as a whole has been fantastic as herself and the team work through this hard time.
“It’s been amazing. The outpouring of support from not only the community but the softball community in general,” Sarchett said. “How many coaching colleagues of mine reached out to me and to my assistants. And former coaches of my players reached out and her story has gone a long way, and we can only hope that it’s a lesson in just how to fight for things.”
Andrews never got the chance to take the field for the Lumberjacks for a game, but her memory will remain with the people she played with and interacted with during her time among the redwoods. Brant was confident that she would remember Andrews for the rest of her life on and off the field.
“I think we should remember Evelyn as a ray of sunshine,” Brant said. “We were saying it all last weekend when we played Chico. We were playing home games in February. We don’t do that here with the rain. So we really knew that she brought out that sunshine for us and she’s just this positive light and this big ball of energy. She had this beautiful smile and a beautiful mind and she was just always happy. I want people to remember that.”
Brant pointed out that Andrews wouldn’t have wanted to be remembered as a patient.
“She wasn’t a cancer patient,” Brant said. “She was someone who just fought cancer. So separating that from who she was as a person was very important to her. She was a ball of life, a ball of sunshine.”