Two local products from the Texas Panhandle having been making major impacts for their West Texas A&M sports programs.
Dumas graduate Cade Cox and Canyon graduate Carly Evetts have shined so far for the Buffs and Lady Buffs and will be on full display during West Texas A&M’s Homecoming Saturday.
Evetts – a 2017 Canyon grad and standout senior middle blocker for the No. 5-ranked Lady Buff volleyball team that’s 15-2 and leading the Lone Star Conference with 5-0 mark – is a very unique story.
Evetts started her college volleyball career playing two years at Odessa College. When her two years were up, Evetts actually met with WTAMU head coach Kendra Potts about coming to play for the Lady Buffs, but decided to go west to San Francisco, Calif., to play continue her athletic and academic career for the Academy of Arts University.
“Carly was one of the first players I ever had on campus when I took this job here at WTAMU,” said Potts, who is now in her fifth season. “I really wanted her to play here, but she wanted to leave and try new things. You can’t blame anyone for that, but I’m just glad it worked out and we have her now.”
Evetts played one full season at AOA before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and then decided it was time to come back home. She took a year off of college and was playing in a city league in Amarillo while weighing her options and then decided it was time to be a Lady Buff.
“I was out of school and not sure I wanted to go back,” Evetts said. “I thought about hopping in the transfer portal and then coach Potts reached back out. I was talking to other schools and wanted to play college volleyball again. I was waiting to get burnt out because a lot of people said that was going to happen, but it’s been my favorite thing to do.”
Evetts had another hill to climb. Since she left school, Evetts had to sit out all of last season and be a supporting teammate while being used as a scout player for the eventual NCAA Division II national champions.
“Last year, we took it month by month, because that’s a hard gig,” Potts said. “To show up at 6 a.m., for workouts every morning and not get to play or travel but do the grind. That’s hard to do.”
Though Evetts says it was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done in her career, she embraced playing the starters as a scout player and made the most of the opportunity.
“The first home game last year was very hard to sit and watch,” Evetts said. “It really made me think if I wanted to do this anymore. The high-level practices were fun, and the team was a blast but that first home game was tough. I asked coach Potts if she needed me. She was reassuring and after that I started having fun.”
Potts echoed Evetts comments.
“Carly is so talented she became the best scout team player we’ve ever had in the gym. She whipped the starters every day. She could mimic any opponent’s player in practice. She made us so much better and got us prepared each week because of her. Especially against Concordia-St. Paul in the national championship. They didn’t have a weakness and they played very clean. We put film together and we were hesitant to show the team because of how good they played, and then our captain Torrey Miller said, ‘Coach, Carly has been killing us like this in practice all year long, we’ll be fine.’ I knew from there how big of a role Carly played.”
Evetts is now getting her moment on the court as one of the Lady Buffs top players. Evetts gets to play in front of her family and hometown crowd starting all 17 games this season knocking down 147 kills with 59 blocks and 23 aces.
“This year has been a blast,” Evetts said. “I’ve adjusted to the pace but I’m loving it and I’m having so much fun. This is so special to me because my first introduction to playing in “The Box” was a camp when I was 5 years old. I remember thinking that playing in here would be so out of reach. So, to be here now and play in “The Box” every day is something I take in and really acknowledge.”
Canyon head coach Sara Morath still follows Evetts and couldn’t be prouder of her success.
“I love watching Carly play,” Morath said. “I’ve known Carly since she was in junior high. To have been able to watch her grow into the athlete she is now is incredible. When she was in high school, I wanted her to stay and play at WT. I was happy on her decision to leave but when I heard she was coming back I couldn’t have been more excited. She’s a tremendous athlete and a pleasure to watch.”
Like Evetts, Cox has carved his own path.
The 2020 Dumas graduate and two-time All-State linebacker for the Demons has found his role for a Buff football team that is 2-4 under first-year head coach Josh Lynn.
Cox redshirted as a freshman and saw time in nine games last season. Though he is rotating behind two quality linebackers in Jimmy Harrison and J.T. Cavender, Cox has put the “special” in special teams for Lynn and the Buffs.
“Cade does a great job,” Lynn said. “When you are a second-team linebacker a lot of your living is on special teams. He’s now one of our best on special teams. He keeps us in games when he blocks those punts and that leads to scores. Those are game-changing plays that effect wins and losses.”
In six games, Cox has found ways to squeeze through for an incredible three blocked punts against Midwestern State, Western Oregon and last Saturday against Texas A&M-Kingsville. Two of those blocks have led to scoring drives on the following possession.
“Coach (Cody) Russell puts me in good situations,” Cox said. “My job is just to go and get the ball and I do my best. I know what my role is and I do my best to get it done.”
Cox is one of only two local players left from his stacked recruiting class that included former Wheeler standout Hesston Marshall, Canadian state champion quarterback Joshua Culwell, and Bushland wide receiver Brody Sutterfield. All those guys have exited; however, Cox is still at WTAMU, grinding every day to make himself better.
“I think my love for the game has kept me here,” Cox said. “I like to see the future and the big picture instead of the present. I know I have a role on this team, and I just want to give this coaching staff 100 percent.”
Lynn agreed with Cox’s comment.
“Cade enjoys football,” Lynn said. “He’s a great teammate and a great football player. He just plays behind two All-American types in Jimmy Harrison and J.T. Cavender. His time will come but right now he’s making the most of an opportunity.”
Dumas football coach Aaron Dunnam isn’t surprised when he sees Cox’s success. Dunnam watched Cox day in and day out become one of the best at Dumas for four years.
“Cade is a young man that knew his goals were to play college football,” Dunnam said. “He has taken advantage of every opportunity and also made the sacrifices that were necessary to play at the next level. Cade is the perfect example of a program player and just keeps showing up and working for everything that comes his way. His character, work ethic, and commitment to being great is second to nobody. I am very proud of him.”