CATCH 22

CATCH 22

September 16, 2020 qccmixlsnnfz 0

first_img Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. This is placeholder text Advertisement Jordan Evans is still trying to live up to expectations set by being No. 22 after two leg injuries Standing on the turf in the middle of the 49,250-seat Carrier Dome, fans’ stares cornered Jordan Evans. Their eyes pleaded with him: What’s going on now? He caught the glares of people expecting him to play in Syracuse’s 2015 season-opener against Siena.Ranked the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013, the Jamesville-DeWitt (New York) product was tabbed by Syracuse head coach John Desko as the first freshman to wear the iconic No. 22 since 2006. His first two seasons haven’t lived up to the hype he came to SU with.Leg injuries diverted Evans’ path away from Syracuse’s record books. His absence on the field compounded the expectations that followed wearing the same number Gary Gait, Charlie Lockwood and Mike Powell wore. He’s invited that pressure and used it to fuel a rediscovery of the player he once was.In the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament against Marist, Evans scored five goals. Two came while he played attack, his natural position and the one he’ll play in 2016. Three came at midfield, where the start of his career was derailed. Entering his junior year, he’ll have a chance to prove he’s the Jordan Evans of old. That he’s over the injuries, over the pressure and he’s better than the mediocre first two seasons of his career.But when Syracuse opened 2015 against the Saints, he sat out, injured for a second straight season. Again, he could feel people’s disappointment raining down on him. It didn’t matter there was no “22,” his scarlet letter, stitched on his back. The gray sweat suit said more to the fans. The eye contact was “brutal,” he said. His voice wavered.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“All these people who wear this jersey ahead of you put so much pressure on you, and it’s not their fault that they were great players,” Evans said. “It’s the fans who put this pressure on you. There’s nothing wrong with it.“… It’s disappointing that I want to show people, but I haven’t gotten the chance to.”Emma Comtois | Design Editor• • •Evans crumpled to the turf and his mind raced to the worst conclusion: a torn ACL, the 2015 season, also his sophomore season, over before it began. He sat off to the side of practice and broke down, unable to bare another year lost.Just before the season, Evans’ finger split open and his fingertip shattered. It was relatively minor, his mother, Wendi Evans, said, but after a rough freshman campaign, he was ready for a breakout season.“He was really, really upset about that,” Wendi said. “He was just pissed … It was so defeating. ‘Are you kidding me, I just got hurt again?’”“… I said, ‘Jordan, it’s only a finger, it’s not a knee.’”The comment, meant to provide perspective, became reality. Choked up, Evans called Tommy Anthis, a former Jamesville-DeWitt lacrosse player and longtime friend. Anthis says he’ll never forget that call. No number of words could convey the message Evans’ tone spelled out clearer.“He puts a lot of stress on himself,” Anthis said, “and I think it stressed him out more because of the hype when he injured himself for the second time … I think he was more angry than anything.”Photo illustration by Drew Osumi | Staff PhotographerTeammates patted him on the back, telling him everything was going to be fine and that he’d contribute to the team, all things that seemed false. The comforting overtures softened the blow, if only slightly. Luckily for Evans, an MRI revealed he hadn’t torn his ACL and that, with rehab, he could return early in 2015.That was at least a silver lining for the then-sophomore. He would be able to play just one year after his freshman season slipped away because of a high ankle sprain. It prevented him from dodging and cutting, two key parts of his skillset. He was forced to play defensive midfield, a position he had never played.Two knee injuries in two years would mean little to fans had the number on his back not been No. 22.The theory that injuries have shortened his last two seasons may hold weight, but those eyes ogling from the stands want to see a No. 1 recruit, not Evans’ 11 career goals and three assists.“People take the injury and say, ‘Well, he’s injured, he may not be that good,’” Evans said. “But I don’t see how that is something that you could combine an injury with.”Emma Comtois | Design EditorHe said he doesn’t read tweets and online comments, but Evans knows what people say. For as much external pressure as there is on Evans to get back, he’s also pressed himself to return. He, just like the fans, would like to see his old self, the one that was picked to take No. 22.In his two seasons at SU, the injuries have heaped pressure on to the already ever-present expectations. Sometimes, Evans has joked about giving up the number, taking another one and easing the weight, now two years old and growing, off his back.“I know nobody on this team would switch numbers, so sometimes I’m like, ‘You want to switch numbers with me?’ ‘Oh yeah, I’ll take No. 1 next year.’ And then I think of, that would be a huge story in itself,” Evans said. “Well now he doesn’t want the number, but then what if I’m a better player if I’m No. 1.“It’s just a jersey number. People just don’t realize that.”• • •When Evans rehabbed from injuries, former teammate Mike Messina was there to crack jokes and keep him positive. When Evans struggled with a position switch to defensive midfield, Messina helped Evans learn the position.After hurting his leg twice, Anthis said Evans started working out more to protect himself from another crushing injury. So when Evans got into the weight room, it was Messina helping him develop his habits.The junior works out six days per week, getting up at 8 a.m., arriving at the gym by 9:30 a.m. and sometimes stretching for an hour to prevent injury.Working out has become Evans’ pressure valve. During high school, Evans channeled the pressure of his recognition into doing things on the lacrosse field no one had ever seen before.I would laugh at myself, where if I did things that not a lot of people were able to do, that’s what eased the pressure, like, ‘Wow this is awesome.’But Evans hasn’t had that outlet the past two seasons. His lateral movement has been limited by injuries and a brace wired him to be a mechanical player.Messina pushed him to get into the weight room and to continually improve even if he couldn’t be on the field. Evans’ motivation was partially to earn the nickname “hammer,” Messina said, which was first given to JoJo Marasco, the No. 22 before Evans, for his prowess in the weight room and then passed to Messina.In addition to his lacrosse workouts, Evans started cross-fit training with Anthis two years ago at Anthis’ gym, Urban Life Athletics. Within three days of the 2014 season ending, Evans came into the gym and Anthis could see the frustration of Evans’ lost season, and he watched him burn off the disappointment.Evans asked Messina if he earned the moniker throughout the 2015 season, but the senior held off as long as he could.“Toward the end of the season,” Messina said, “I told him, ‘Hey man, you’re a hammer now.”In the NCAA tournament against Marist, the work Evans put in to earn the nickname converged with the work he did on the field. His knee brace’s removal unchained Evans from the turf.The result is saved on his television — he scored five goals for his first career multi-goal game.Evans discounts some of his production because to him it was just Marist and two goals were gifted to him, but he looked as comfortable as he ever has. A fake pass to Nick Weston drew one defender out of Evans’ shooting lane, allowing the latter to fire a laser into the top left corner.“I felt like, ‘OK, I can do these things and I’m not going to be afraid to shoot or dodge on people anymore,’” Evans said. “After that I was like, ‘I’m going to play lacrosse now.’”For so long, Anthis had watched Evans tentatively plant, but he and Wendi realized her son, even if only for a night, had returned.Logan Reidsma | Senior Staff PhotographerJordan Evans celebrates with Derek DeJoe (12) after scoring a goal against Marist in an NCAA tournament game on May 10, 2014. He had five on the night, a career-high.• • •In the last two years, Evans has talked to his mom mostly about classwork with lacrosse being a close second. She suspects it’s because it hurt to think about the sport he couldn’t play up to the expectations set for him. Recently, however, lacrosse has dominated the conversation.There are no injuries to keep him off the field. He’s no longer playing out of position. He doesn’t have to consult his brain how to defend.He’s gotten back to yelling when teammates score, laughing when someone is shook by a move and going crazy when someone stings a corner.“That’s the fun part of lacrosse,” Evans said. “People think you’re like a trash talker or something if you laugh when someone makes somebody fall, but that’s what I like to do.”The most fun part about playing attack to Evans, though, is the ride. He craves the opportunity to get the ball back after losing it, grabbing possession before the other team hits midfield. He believes that’s where the game is won.Evans’ first two seasons have been a misfire. As his career approaches midfield, he sees the opportunity to grab ahold of it again. Commentscenter_img Published on February 11, 2016 at 12:02 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *