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  • PREPS

    Evans balancing summer duties

    He's hoping hard work pays off in baseball, football
  • Summertime should be spent making plans with friends and enjoying all that comes with the freedom of a full day with endless possibilities ahead of you.
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    • JARED EVANS
      WHO: A 6-foot-3, 195-pound right fielder for the Medford Mustangs and wide receiver for the North Medford football team.
      • WHAT: Evans has spent the summer balancing his football and baseb...
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      JARED EVANS
      WHO: A 6-foot-3, 195-pound right fielder for the Medford Mustangs and wide receiver for the North Medford football team.

      • WHAT: Evans has spent the summer balancing his football and baseball pursuits as he enters his senior year of high school. He's batting .325 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs in 25 games for the Mustangs and considered one of Oregon's top recruits at wide receiver.
      • QUOTE: "With two conflicting sports, you have to learn to deal with it and can't think of the negatives that come with it. Maybe I don't get to go to the lake with friends or river with friends, but at least I'm doing something productive that will help me for my future."
  • Summertime should be spent making plans with friends and enjoying all that comes with the freedom of a full day with endless possibilities ahead of you.
    When you're a teenage athlete — and a multi-sport one at that — such a lifestyle simply isn't an option. Instead, the words "I can't" become a daily mantra as you trudge off to another day on the grind.
    Jared Evans leads such a life these days and, like most in his shoes, isn't looking for anyone's pity. But if more people truly understood what he was going through, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
    "I'm not going to lie, it is tough sometimes being a two-sport athlete in the summertime," said Evans, who is a standout football and baseball player. "With two conflicting sports, you have to learn to deal with it and can't think of the negatives that come with it. Maybe I don't get to go to the lake with friends or river with friends, but at least I'm doing something productive that will help me for my future. In the overall picture what I'm doing is positive for my future, it just doesn't leave time for anything else right now."
    Evans' story isn't a unique one, mind you. Countless athletes throughout the Rogue Valley are spending their summers toiling in a gymnasium or on a field somewhere, all trying to increase their skill set as well as their recruiting profile for prospective college suitors.
    Still, the North Medford High senior-to-be is as good of an example as any to show how the summer months can be more stressful than any others when you're an athlete.
    At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Evans possesses a unique blend of speed and athleticism that has translated extremely well to the football field and baseball diamond, most recently as the right fielder for the American Legion AAA Medford Mustangs.
    The 17-year-old standout is considered one of Oregon's top wide receiver recruits for the Class of 2015, and is a little more than a month removed from being named North Medford's player of the game in the Class 6A baseball state championship victory over Sheldon.
    "I think Jared could go on to a very high level in either one of those two sports," said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben. "In football, he's pretty impressive out there, and in baseball, he's got a lot of tools ... a lot of tools."
    "He's a savvy baseball player," added Mayben. "There's really nothing not to like about Jared's baseball game, other than he's a pretty good football player, too."
    To live up to that promise, and have it pave the way for a potential college scholarship, Evans has tirelessly tried to show all that he has to offer in both sports this summer. Since players are recruited more from their summer showcases than anything else these days, he hasn't wanted to leave any stone left unturned.
    For football, he's traveled to take part in Nike's elite camp in Eugene as well as camps at Oregon State and his team camp at Linfield. He also enjoyed a personal tour at Western Oregon guided by another former Black Tornado and Wolves standout, Jason Slowey.
    This week, the local 7-on-7 passing leagues started for high school teams on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Evans has been right there with his gridiron mates.
    Evans was given a week away from the Mustangs to take care of his early football commitments but, otherwise, has been on hand for all but three of their baseball games. A late addition to last year's Mustangs squad, Evans went on to lead the team with a .376 batting average. This year, some of his extra duties have taken a toll and he's hitting .325 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs scored in 25 games entering Friday.
    "When I went to Oregon State, somehow I jammed my right big toe and it's been painful to run on," said Evans, "and when I swing it's been hard to pivot onto that back foot because it was so painful. I think that caused me to shy away from it and changed my swing a little and caused me to go into a little slump the past few weeks. But it's gotten better now so I think I should be getting better there now."
    After all, it's not like Evans has much time to rest when issues like that arise.
    "My body needs its rest period but it's gotten used to the wear and tear that both sports put on it," he added. "I think I had maybe one true day off between the state championship and the end of June."
    As an example of his hectic schedule, Evans described a week in June that saw him go from the Linfield football team camp to a baseball doubleheader in Roseburg. He followed that with a home doubleheader against Eugene and then a state championship banquet before making a trip to Portland for his grandparents' 50th anniversary gathering. After that was the Oregon State football camp, a walk-through of the Western Oregon facilities with Slowey and then, finally, a trip back to Roseburg for a baseball tournament.
    "That's just an example of how packed June was for me," he said, almost tired from retracing his steps. "It was just like that the whole month."
    To even make that happen, Evans said he and his parents had to map things out one or two months in advance, double-checking with the Mustangs schedule to make sure he would be available.
    "This year I had to limit where I could go and travel to for football camps just because I didn't want to be gone all the time for baseball," he said. "For the most part my parents (Phil and Julie Evans) helped me out a lot with it all. They're really good at organizing all the things that I can do and where I can be."
    Evans' dedication to both sports has been admirable, and certainly appreciated by Mayben as well as North Medford football coach Mike Mitchell.
    "He goes to baseball and then he shows up for 7-on-7 work at night, he's just a great kid," said Mitchell. "It's really tough on a kid at this time of the year if they're playing baseball and football but he does the best he can at working at both as hard as he possibly can. I really couldn't be any happier with the effort that he puts in. I think he's going to have an outstanding football season for us this year; we're all real excited about the start of 2014."
    Evans said he's "wide-open" when it comes to whether football or baseball would be his choice to play in college. A lot will depend on what offers come in, as well as what fits best with the academic goals for Evans, who holds a 3.8 grade-point average.
    Until then, he's just going to keep plugging away in both sports with the hope that it will all pay off in the end.
    "Honestly I've kinda gotten used to all of it over the years," he said. "It's nothing new."
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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