Tiffany Evans, seated, of Starkville Academy signs a National Letter of Intent to play soccer with the University of North Alabama on Wednesday morning as Volunteers soccer coach Robert Gardner, standing from left, Tiffany's sister Angela Evans and Tiffany's father David Evans show their support. (Photo by Jason Edwards, SDN)
The hard work of Starkville Academy girls soccer player Tiffany Evans has been recognized.
At her position as a center midfielder for the Lady Volunteers, Evans had to think quick and react on her feet.
Starkville Academy athletic director Glenn Schmidt used the phrase "blue collar worker" on Wednesday morning to describe Evans' effort on the soccer field, while announcing that she was signing a scholarship with the University of North Alabama.
Evans shared the moment with coaches, family and friends at he school's media center.
In her first couple of years with the Lady Vols, Evans bounced around several different positions.
She started out as a defender, but approached SA soccer coach Robert Gardner during her junior year about playing the central midfield.
Gardner was impressed about the vision Evans had to play that position.
"I told her things would be required of her and from then on out, she came in, did the work, won the job and that has been her position for the next year and a half," Gardner said. "She's had nothing but success for us while playing the midfield."
Gardner believes Evans will continue to play the midfield at North Alabama and that's something she wants to do.
Evans said there are certain things a player must understand while playing the midfield.
"You can expect pressure from any angle in the middle of the field," Evans said. "You have a lot of support to. You have to get up and attack and get back and defend, so you have to have a lot of stamina to be effective."
Gardner said Evans believed in herself as a central player, and after challenging Evans in certain areas, Gardner said Evans was able to effectively play the position.
"(With) the technical ability she has, it wasn't a stretch for her to get there," Gardner said. "I wanted her to improve and she did do that. Her vision improved, her fitness improved and her ability to make quick decisions improved. All of those things you have to have when playing in the middle of the field."
Win or lose, Evans loved playing for Starkville Academy and is looking to take that same attitude to the next level at North Alabama.
Evans wasn't sure at first where she wanted to play soccer, but it only took a couple of visits to Florence, Ala., to realize she wanted to play with the Lions.
"North Alabama was just perfect in every way," Evans said. "Their program is really successful and the campus is not too far away.
"All three times I've seen them play, they've had an easy win and they won their (Gulf South) conference last year so that's nice."
Gardner said an individual only has to spend 10 minutes of conversation with Evans to realize how fond she is of soccer.
He is excited to know Evans will still have an opportunity to grow and learn with the sport.
"She's a class kid and very good soccer player as well," Gardner said. "I think nothing but the world of her. She's a player that has improved steadily throughout the three years she's been with me.
"I'm privileged to have her as a part of our program. To sign a college scholarship is a great achievement for her and says a lot for her character and who she is."
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