Opportunity knocked, Evans answered

Graduate student Jordan Evans passes the ball to a teammate. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux

In 2018, a college freshman joined the Youngstown State University women’s soccer team as a walk-on midfielder. In 2024, that same athlete received an invitation to the player combine for the Tampa Bay Sun FC, a team in the United Soccer League Super League.

Graduate student Jordan Evans joined YSU from Austintown Fitch High School almost six years ago, and through an extended collegiate career, has caught the attention of a professional soccer club in the United Soccer League.

Evans was invited to the Sun’s combine which took place Jan. 6 and 7 in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

The graduate student said she enjoyed the experience in Tampa Bay and was happy to get back to action on the field.

“It was such a great experience and I had a lot of fun … it felt nice to be back in a competitive environment after this fall season,” Evans stated. “I loved meeting with the staff and other players and being able to showcase my skills … also the Florida sunshine was a plus.”

Evans said conversations about continuing her career began midseason with her coaches.

“Starting [to think] about playing professionally came about in the middle of the season talking with my coaches. Then, right when the season wrapped up is when we started taking off on the conversations,” Evans said.

Head coach for the women’s soccer team Brian Shrum sent a highlight video of Evans via email to the Tampa Bay Sun FC, and she received word that she would be invited.

“[Shrum] was the one to initially send an email with a highlight video of me, and we got the word back that I would be invited,” Evans said. “I’ve just been continuing practicing and getting really excited for [the combine].”

Shrum said he has confidence in Evans and is happy she was given the opportunity.

She was the commander on defense [last season] and one of the greatest teammates to ever wear the YSU jersey,” Shrum said. “I know Jordan can play at the next level somewhere, and I am so excited she has been given a chance.”

Evans has played in 77 games throughout her Youngstown State career and started 39. She has collected three goals since 2018 and two in 2023 alone.

Also in 2023, the midfielder started 13 games and helped lead the Penguins to their second straight season at .500 winning percentage with a 7-7-3 overall record.

The USL Super League will be a league owned and operated by the USL. The league plans to be a Division I professional women’s soccer league in the United States with teams throughout both the U.S. and Canada.

One of the teams featured in the Super League is the Tampa Bay Sun FC, one of 12 new teams planning to take the pitch for the first time in August 2024 as Tampa Bay’s first women’s professional sports team.

The club will play in an upgraded and expanded stadium along the waterfront of the Hillsborough River.

Evans is one of many athletes Tampa Bay is recruiting for its inaugural season. In an interview for Tampa Bay FC, head coach of the club Denise Schilte-Brown said she wants to field a team that can compete in the new league.

“We want Tampa Bay to have an immediate impact on this league and we look forward to fielding a strong team to represent Tampa Bay,” Schilte-Brown said.

Evans will return to Youngstown State for her seventh season of play in the fall of 2024.