Tina Evans is the TSSAA Title IX Trailblazer for the week of July 12, 2022.
Growing up, Tina Evans loved sports, but did not have the variety of sports available to her that young girls do today. She participated in cheerleading and track & field at Church Hill High School (now Volunteer High School), both under the leadership of Coach Claudette Sivert. She went on to East Tennessee State University, playing intramurals in her free time, and graduating with a degree in Health and Physical Education with an endorsement in Science and Biology in 1984. During college she had the opportunity to intern under Donna Linkous, who had graduated high school a few years ahead of Evans and was teaching physical education methods classes at Church Hill Middle School. These experiences solidified for Evans that she wanted to teach and coach.
Evans began her career coaching gymnastics and then took a job at Church Hill Middle School in 1987, teaching physical education and coaching track & field, basketball, and volleyball. She modeled her track & field practices from her own experience running track in high school, but having never played basketball or volleyball, she looked to both Sivert and Linkous for guidance on how to coach these sports. “They were a huge factor in my life. They taught me how to select players for a team, conduct a practice, handle games, motivate students, and they helped me in the classroom, too.”
Tina Evans and the 1998 Volunteer HS girls' volleyball team
In 1991, Evans transferred to Volunteer High School to teach physical education and serve as the head volleyball coach and an assistant track & field coach. In these two sports and in the classroom, she had the opportunity to work alongside her mentors, Sivert and Linkous. Volunteer High School Athletic Director, Jeremy Bailey, noted that Evans came into high school coaching with valuable skills for player development. “Having coached two sports at the middle school level, she was used to encouraging athletes to continue their athletic careers at the next level. While coaching at the high school level, several student-athletes were able to earn college scholarships in both volleyball and track.” In addition, girls’ track athletes from Volunteer High School medaled at the state meet nearly every year she coached, with three winning individual state championships in their event. Coach Evans became known for instilling a strong work ethic in her athletes, encouraging them to support their teammates and give back to the community while still having fun.
Tina Evans with the 1998 Volunteer HS girls' track team
Evans retired from coaching volleyball in 2017 and girls’ track in 2019, but she continues to teach anatomy and physiology at Volunteer High School. Reflecting on her career, Evans has kept up with her former student-athletes and is most proud of what they have gone on to accomplish. “What I have seen sports do for my athletes is teach them things that they can carry on throughout their life, like how to win and lose, work as a team, and handle stress. I now have someone that I coached working in all different career paths, including the medical, law, business, and teaching fields.” Later in her coaching career, Evans had the privilege of coaching some of the children of her former student-athletes.
When asked about the impact of Title IX, Evans referenced the number of playing opportunities available to young girls today, both at the interscholastic and club level. “The variety of sports available to girls is so much greater than when I was growing up. Title IX has shown that girls can achieve greatness in any sport, just like the boys.” Since 2020, Evans has worked to expand the variety of sports for boys as well, serving as an assistant coach to the growing boys’ volleyball program at Volunteer High School.
Tina Evans and the 2022 Volunteer HS boys' volleyball team
Coach Evans and Coach Sivert at the TSSAA Track & Field State Championships
The opportunities created by Title IX continue to have a positive effect on each new generation. Tina Evans was fortunate to have strong female mentors like Claudette Sivert and Donna Linkous influencing her career as an educator and coach, giving Evans the opportunity to in turn leave a mark on the lives of more young students and athletes. “People often ask me if I would do it over again,” Evans reflected. “It was hard. It was time consuming, But, yes. Those I coached impacted my life just as much as I hope I impacted them.” For her immeasurable influence on the lives of countless student-athletes in Hawkins County for over 30 years, we honor Tina Evans as this week’s TSSAA Title IX Trailblazer.