KATHERINE EVANS: Not Just a Quarterback's Sister
I took a course in Romantic poetry last year.
It consisted basically of listening to three separate professors prattle on about Keats & Company's quest for the (capital S) Sublime.
I didn't get it.
But Saturday night, when I watched my brother complete a 34-yard dream of a pass with 8.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to put N.C. State in the lead over Boston College, I think I finally understood what Sublime meant.
Let me give you some background.
I was born the third in a set of four 21 years ago. From first to last, we are: Daniel, Quinn, Katherine, and Andrew.
We're quadruplets. In other words, four babies, one shot.
Daniel and Andrew play football at N.C. State. Quinn is also at N.C. State, where she's majoring in African studies and making a new friend about every hour.
I go to school at the UNC-Chapel Hill -- a pause here for the jokes -- and I'm currently taking some time off to intern at The Pilot.
Our dad, Johnny, was an All-American football player at N.C. State, and he went on to play professional football for a few years. He now works for a ministry called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and does color commentary for the radio broadcast of N.C. State football games for the Wolfpack Sports Network.
And our mom, Beth -- well, she's a saint.
We grew up in Raleigh, all of us a little sports-crazy. My earliest memories are of falling asleep in my mom's lap to the roar of the crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium. Or of picking clovers while playing outfield in T-ball games. Or of watching both of my brothers hurtle toward me at full force for "tackle practice."
Our situation did afford us the advantage of three other built-in playmates. We had the perfect numbers for two-on-two basketball, various pool games, and Monopoly. We fought -- hard, at times, complete with bloody noses and several sets of stitches. But we always, always loved. The No. 1 rule in our family? Protect one another.
There were a lot of personalities vying for attention. I have a friend who's interested in birth order and what it says about personality makeup -- the oldest is the overachiever, the middle is the risk-taker, the youngest is the wild child. Our family doesn't really have the luxury of birth-order predestination. But I can still try to oversimplify our nuanced personalities with pithy descriptors and gross generalizations.
My brother Daniel is the leader. He's all-boy, never without some kind of ball, stick or noise-making device. He has never kowtowed to what people think he should be, and his moral compass is dead on.
My sister Quinn is the social butterfly. She's popular, but not in a "Mean Girls" kind of way. People like her because she likes them. It doesn't matter who you are, Quinn will be a friend to you. She's also probably the only person in the world who does her Swahili homework by the light of a talking Disney Princess lamp.
My brother Andrew is, as Mary Poppins was, practically perfect. (And I'm sure he'll love the Mary Poppins comparison.) He's the most disciplined person I know, forgoing cake even on our birthday because he's made a commitment to being the best athlete he can be. When he talks to you, you'll feel like you're the most important person in the world.
And I'm, well, the bookworm. True story: I don't remember learning to read.
We went to public school for the first time in high school, and I can remember all sitting together at one lunch table that first day, feeling a little embarrassed but so grateful we had each other. We all had the same first-period class, and as the teacher went down the roll -- "Evans... Evans... Evans... Evans" -- she stopped.
"Are you cousins?" she asked.
We all kind of balked. Dropping the quad card is tricky. You have to choose whom you tell -- if you're never going to see them again, it's mostly best to mumble something about twins and bow out. But if you're going to spill the beans, you've got to deal with the questions. And confusion.
"Is that, like, five?" (It's four. Quad. Four.)
"Are you identical?" (No, but we do look related.)
"What was it like?" (We had fun.)
"Is your mom enormous?" (Absolutely not.)
And so on.
Evans to Evans
But we adjusted to our high school -- and, I think, it adjusted to us -- and soon my brothers were playing a sport every season (football, basketball, and baseball), and my sister and I were dividing our time between basketball and volleyball. It was fun.
I sat with my parents in the far corner of the bleachers for every Friday night football game, filming the game and offering up some really lame commentary. Sometimes my sister would come up to take a break from her socializing, and we'd yell "Evans to Evans! Evans to Evans!" -- waiting for Daniel the quarterback to connect with Andrew the receiver.
I always knew where to look for my brothers in the stands before basketball games. Daniel, ever the coach, would sit beside my dad, alternately yelling "Move!" or "Don't foul!" Andrew would meet my sister and me after the game and say "You girls were awesome."
My parents probably went to some kind of sporting event every night of the week -- either a game or practice. When we all went to college, I can remember my mom telling one of her friends, "Johnny and I don't have anywhere to go anymore." She was only partly kidding.
Now we're away. We do grown-up things like laundry and meeting each other for dinner dates. We still try to have family time, mostly on Sundays after church. Sometimes my dad and brothers will talk football while we -- the other half -- smile and pretend we understand "dime coverage" and the "hitch and go."
But all that's not to say athletics defines our family. It's a big part, sure, but not the biggest. A reporter came to our house this weekend and asked Andrew, "What do you want people to know about your family?" He didn't even hesitate.
"That we're a family of faith," he said.
And it's true. It's faith -- namely, faith in Christ -- that drives us, sustains us, and yes, completes us. Not just as a family, but as individuals. As Daniel, Quinn, Katherine, and Andrew.
Moment of Transcendence
So back to Saturday night.
My brother Daniel threw a game-winning touchdown pass on the same field our Dad had played on 28 years ago.
The crowd went crazy. I was hugging people I'd never met before. I was crying in a way that in any other circumstance would probably qualify me as completely insane.
All conventions of social propriety have been completely suspended, and all sense of the individual has been completely lost to this moment of Grace: We had won! And our brother -- our brother! -- had led the charge!
My sister and I watched Daniel -- the same brother who used to put on my dad's bathrobe and pretend he was a karate master -- turn into a bona fide hero in a matter of seconds. We watched Daniel and Andrew hug and slap each other on the back as we'd seen them do after hundreds of games before then.
Like Keats, I knew that that moment of transcendence wouldn't last. I knew that on Sunday morning, I'd see Daniel at the kitchen table eating an enormous plate of honey buns and Andrew hunched over the sports section. We would all go to Quinn's intramural flag football game Sunday night. Things would return more or less to normal in the Evans house.
But in that moment, we all enjoyed the Sublime.
Katherine Evans is an intern at The Pilot. Contact her at 693-2484 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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