Cardinal in The Sky
By: Kymberly Amara
It’s only up from here for the new WNBA champion, Dana Evans. Evans says waking up as a championship winner is surreal and she’s still trying to process it all. The former University of Louisville graduate, Cardinals basketball star and new WNBA Champion recently chatted with Heart and Soul about her recent win, basketball journey, and what’s next.
On getting started in basketball…
Having grown up in a sports-inclined family back home in Gary, Indiana Evans began her journey as a ballerina. “I’ve always been in sports. I started out being a ballerina. My first love was ballet and then I started running track…but when I touched that basketball everything else stopped.” Evans would attend her brother’s games or go with her dad, who also played in a 35 and older league, to watch games but didn’t begin her basketball journey until the age of nine. She says in the seventh grade she knew that she wanted to play professionally and, “could be special” if she focused and continued to get better every day. By the time she graduated, she knew she wanted to join a winning team and had done her research. Evans decided to become a Louisville Cardinal who
Evans credits her parents with keeping her motivated to keep pushing and go further in her career. She also credits her high school coach, Coach Fisher along with Coach Tom, her first AU coach. Both have been very instrumental in helping develop Evans into the basketball player she is today and continue to be very supportive throughout her career.
Becoming a WNBA Champion…
As far as her recent trade that landed her on a championship-winning team, while on the surface it may have seemed like a downer to be traded so early in her career, Evans says, “ I thought that was the best move for me as an individual. I thought that this was the best spot for me because I don’t have to play for 30 minutes. I can learn my first few years, watch Slew and learn the game from her, the point guard that’s here now, she’s one of the best point guards to play. So, just being able to learn and stuff I think was best for me and this program obviously is close to home and everything else.”
Evans says that her journey to becoming a WNBA champion has been a rollercoaster, “I would say that going from the end of my senior season at Louisville from losing, a heartbreaker in ACC Tournament, then losing the Elite Eight and not get to the national championship and then going into the draft expecting to be a first-round pick, actually a high first-round pick, and then dropping to number 13 the first pick in the second round was obviously just another thing that was like “ok’ and then when I go to Dallas I didn’t really play as much, that was another thing and then I got traded to Chicago I started to play, we started winning and now I’m a champion.” Despite all of the ups and downs, Evans is committed to seeing through whatever challenges that may pop up and understands that it is all a part of God’s plan.
For other aspiring athletes looking to chart a similar path for themselves, she offers the following, “You can’t let someone else’s journey or process dictate yours…sometimes your journey is longer than others. Sometimes God doesn’t want you to have that yet. I always wondered when I was going to get a championship like I’ve been working so hard. I worked in college; I didn’t get the national championship in college. High school I didn’t get a state championship, but I mean, He wanted bigger for me so He waited until I was a professional at the hardest level to give me something that I worked so many years for. So my advice is just to always stay humble, stay true to yourself and just go and get what you want. Go and get it, no one is just going to hand it to you, you have to go and get it.”
What’s next for the rising star…
With God at the forefront, Evans says, “I could never leave Him out of anything I do because He’s the reason that this is how it is. He’s had this plan for me…He’s took me on a rollercoaster, but I trusted Him and I made sure I had my faith and I knew things would work out the way that they were supposed to. I didn’t see things at first, the vision was blurry but now I understand why He did things in the way that He did.” At just 23 years-old, Evans has a bright future ahead of her and is already getting back into a championship mindset. She plans on going overseas, to Israel, to continue training and honing her skills playing basketball.
She has a degree in Sports Administration and hopes to one day get into sports journalism or be an analyst for ESPN when she finally decides to put the ball down. As she continues to build her brand, Evans hopes to one day be able to use her platform to mentor future generations and give back. She currently has an endorsement with Ebby Rane, a black-owned luggage company and says others are coming. For now, the WNBA champion is focused on getting better and becoming more established in her career. Despite the misconceptions about Evans, she’s just a girl from Gary, Indiana that loves people, basketball, and God. Bringing beauty both on and off the court, Evans wants to be a positive force in the world and it’s clear that the sky’s the limit from here.
Dana Evans is unstoppable and has always been on a quest to prove herself. During the unprecedented stoppage of basketball during her junior season, at University of Louisville, she spent her time in lockdown channeling her basketball withdrawals into improving her mental and physical game. By the time her senior year and college career came to a close – she led the ACC in scoring, was named ACC Player of the Year for the 2nd consecutive season and became just the third Cardinal to be named a First Team AP All-American. Fast forward to today, she is the 13th pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft and stars as a guard for the Chicago Sky.
Dana has been destined for this day since the fourth grade, and has been prepped by her father Damon, whom she considers her most trusted basketball mentor. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, Dana took up ballet at a young age, not realizing it would groom her to play basketball one day. She put in extra time to develop her craft and competitive nature, showing the work ethic, dedication, and attention to detail that would bring out the best in her. She is nothing short of a perfectionist. A middle-school championship game got her addicted to basketball and there is no stopping her now. Dana still has so much more history to make and looks forward to this next chapter in her career.