After starring for the Greenwave volleyball team for three years, including nabbing a first-team, all-north selection, Lourdes University senior Evan Matheson enters her final season this fall at the Ohio school. Matheson, whose college team has made the NAIA national tournament in all three seasons and was ranked No. 9 in 2016, took some time to discuss her career at Fallon as she prepares for the final leg in her collegiate chapter.
LVN: What did you want to accomplish with volleyball at Lourdes University?
MATHESON: Since transitioning to being a college athlete, being a star on the team has never been my goal. I want to be the best teammate that I can be, and to provide for my team in a way that best suits me and helps us move toward a common goal. Obviously everybody wants to play, and I definitely did play, but more-so I wanted to support my teammates and let my coaches know that I was always on option if they needed me.
LVN: Who did you want to model in being a leader on and off the volleyball court?
MATHESON: One of my club teammates in high school has always been one of my biggest role models, even though she probably doesn’t know it. She came to practice every day and gave 110 percent. She led through example, she never complained and she was also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She made me want to be a better athlete and teammate, as well as a better person. Although we are the same age, I have always really looked up to her and her leadership style.
LVN: You had a great career in Fallon, not just in volleyball but you played basketball and competed in track and field. As you had three years to reflect on your career, how do you want you to be remembered as a student-athlete in Fallon?
MATHESON: I would be perfectly happy if I was remembered as more of a student than an athlete, honestly. I hope people remember me as well-rounded and involved in the community, not just as a good volleyball player. Although athletics have always been a huge part of my life, it is important to remember that good grades and a good attitude can do a lot more for you than being able to hit a ball. Sports have taught me way more than I could have ever imagined.
LVN: This year’s senior class, like the ones before it, including yours, is looking to be pretty special. What would you advise them in their final year with the Greenwave based on your experiences in college?
MATHESON: I would honestly advise this year’s seniors to just take it all in. Enjoy the little things, cherish playing in front of your family and friends and be the best teammate you can be. Sometimes, I think athletes get so caught up in the numbers and stats that they forget that the point of playing a sport is to ultimately have fun. It’s great to win, but what’s the point if you don’t truly love what you’re doing? Make the best of every opportunity that comes your way and give it everything you’ve got.
LVN: Turning to college, you’re playing for a nationally recognized program in the NAIA. What were your goals during your junior season?
MATHESON: College volleyball is an entirely different beast than what I had experienced in the past. While I had played at a very competitive level previously, it was pretty crazy how new everything seemed when I finally got to the next level. This past season was my junior season and we had actually graduated about nine seniors, so it was a whole new ballgame for us. Some may refer to it as a “building year.”
LVN: What did you hope to accomplish and what do you look forward to with the team this year?
MATHESON: Everyone had their doubts about how the season would go for us, but ultimately we accomplished some pretty big things. We upset an undefeated team in our conference semifinals, which allowed us to earn a bid to the national tournament for the third consecutive year. For a team full of young kids with little-to-no college court experience, that’s pretty dang good. This is a trend that I hope continues into my final season at Lourdes. We have an awesome group coming back in the fall and I know we’re all ready to get after it as a team and smash some more goals.
LVN: You mentioned your team-first approach and it’s great to see you focus so much energy on the team’s needs. But for you, personally, what are you looking forward to this senior season?
MATHESON: My senior season is coming up and I am already having an identity crisis at the thought of not being an athlete anymore. My main priority for this season is just to give it everything I’ve got so that I never have a moment later on wondering “what if I had just tried a little bit harder?” I also want to have fun, which has never been a problem for me because I love volleyball.
LVN: After playing for the Greenwave, what were some of the differences and similarities compared to playing at the collegiate level?
MATHESON: I have personally had the experience that high school and college athletics are almost completely different. College volleyball is extreme compared to what I did in high school. The practices are more intense, the talent is ridiculous and the compassion displayed by all of my teammates is unmatched. Being surrounded by such incredible athletes every day and being pushed to be better makes me a very lucky gal. Although high school athletics are also difficult, I feel that a lot of kids participate because it’s fun, or it’s just what everyone else is doing.
LVN: For many, high school athletics is the final chapter of a student’s playing career. Why was it important to participate in sports in high school? What were the benefits?
MATHESON: I feel like there are so many benefits to kids participating in sports in high school. It teaches you discipline, selflessness, leadership skills, and so many other things. Learning how to be a part of a team is an invaluable skill that will benefit you for your entire life. It is also extremely important to learn how to budget your time at a young age. Having obligations other than just schoolwork in high school requires you to hold yourself accountable and enables you to set goals, both for yourself and your team.
LVN: With this curtain about to close for your collegiate career, what did you still miss about playing high school sports?
MATHESON: I think the No. 1 thing that I miss about high school sports is playing in front of my family. Since I go to school so far away, my parents have only seen me play in person twice in three years. Don’t get me wrong, they watch every single game online, but there’s just something about hearing your family cheer from the stands that really motivates you during a match. I also really miss my teammates from high school. I was so lucky to play among some of the best athletes that Fallon has ever seen.
LVN: What were you most nervous about leaving Fallon and starting a new adventure?
MATHESON: When I think about how I was feeling when I was getting ready to move to Ohio, really all I can remember is how excited I was to be starting a new chapter. Of course, I was also scared out of my mind because I was 18 and moving 2,000 miles away from home, but mostly I was just ready to be doing something new. I don’t really think I was ever nervous because I was confident in my decision that Lourdes was the place for me. I saw it as an opportunity to meet new people and experience new things rather than viewing it as leaving everything behind.
LVN: You had offers from other schools but you ultimately chose Lourdes. What was your process in picking Lourdes and what sold the deal for you to commit?
MATHESON: Looking back on it, I feel like my entire recruiting process was just a whirlwind experience; it all happened so quickly. I was still talking to a few other schools when I made my decision to commit. I went on my official visit to Lourdes in April of my senior year and was there for less than 24 hours before I verbally committed. It’s really hard to explain exactly why I thought it was the right choice, but it just felt like home in a way that other schools that I had visited didn’t. After seeing the campus, meeting the team, and talking to the coaches, I felt very confident with my decision to commit and I still feel that it was the right decision for me. Lourdes has treated me well and it’s crazy to think that my time there will be coming to an end pretty soon.
LVN: What did you want to accomplish in the classroom?
MATHESON: Personally, I feel that academics are everything. I have always been a good student, but having the lofty career goals that I do has really upped the ante for me in that regard. This year, my biggest personal goal was to maintain a high enough GPA to become an academic All-American, which I did. Being recognized by the NAIA for my commitment to academics was honestly one of the biggest achievements I’ve ever had. Sometimes being a huge nerd pays off. I always want to set a good example in the classroom for my younger teammates, and to continue to excel as a student, which will help me as I continue on in my higher education career.
LVN: You’ll graduate in the spring with a biology degree and focus on healthcare. What are your plans after you graduate? Is coaching in the future?
MATHESON: After undergrad, I am planning on attending physician assistant school. I am not positive where yet, but I’m thinking that somewhere closer to home than Ohio might be nice. I am hoping to take a gap year prior to enrolling in order to gain some healthcare experience, as well as travel. I also hope to maintain my ties to the volleyball world through coaching.
LVN: Who has been your biggest influence during this new journey?
MATHESON: My parents have always been my absolute biggest motivators throughout my entire life. They have always provided me with everything that I’ve needed in order to succeed, and I really can’t thank them enough for that. They make me want to be a better person and they continue to guide me in the right direction every single day. My brother is also the smartest person I’ve ever met, so we definitely have a competitive streak when it comes to school. He keeps me accountable and makes sure I don’t turn in papers that have typos.
LVN: You’ve continued to follow the Greenwave – your brother, Conner, was on the 2011 state championship baseball team. What has it meant to you to see the Greenwave succeed?
MATHESON: All of the athletes from Fallon who have continued their athletic careers at the next level have always inspired me, regardless of the sport they play or my personal relationship to them. Seeing the drive and commitment that they had always made me want to emulate them. Being from such a small town really makes me feel like I have a connection to all of the other athletes that have gone on to play at the collegiate level.
LVN: Your family has been involved with your career since you began sports. How much has their support helped you throughout the journey?
MATHESON: I don’t think my parents have ever told me that I wouldn’t be able to achieve something. I had known for pretty much my entire life that I wanted to play a sport in college, so it was kind of an unspoken thing for us. They have done everything in their power to provide me with the opportunities I needed to succeed and have supported me every step of the way. I wish I had a dollar for every time my dad has sent me a picture or video of my mom yelling at a livestream of one of my games.