Athlete of the week: Mitch Eversman, Elk River, softball: Hundred percent

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Mitch Eversman can’t play his favorite sport, football, any more, because he used up his college eligibility about four years ago. But old habits persist now that he’s a softball-only athlete, patroling right field for a McPete’s team on Tuesday nights in Elk River.

“Mitch plays softball pretty much the same way he played football – he hits hard, throws hard, runs hard, plays hard,” said Dan Ebner, his longtime  baseball and softball teammate.

Eversman acknowledges, with a grin, “Yeah, that’s true. That’s the only way I know how. Go a hundred percent or don’t go at all.”

Hard-hitting outfielder Mitch Eversman has played with the same core group of high school buddies for eight years. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The 25-year-old  middle-manager for a computer software firm is one of the more dynamic athletes on the local slow-pitch scene. He hits around .550, cranks out a few homers, wheels swiftly around the bases and into the outfield alleys, uncorks powerful throws from right field and infects teammates with his enthusiasm.

“I’m very competitive, no matter if it’s football or softball or cribbage with my dad.” But he adds: “The void it fills even more, for me, is being part of a team, being around the guys.”

He missed football acutley the first year after college – “I went to one of their games and I had a tough time watching it, not being down there on the field” – but has gotten more used to being an ex-gridder after three years in the work force.

Eversman started two years at outside linebacker at ERHS, on the last two Elk teams that had winning records, 6-4 each season. In baseball, he was a starter one year (the class ahead of him went to “state”) and reached the region finals.

After one year at Bemidji State, Eversman  transferred to St. John’s University to join the legendary Division III football program of John Gagliardi, the nation’s all-time victory leader in college football. He was a defensive sub and special teams guy for two years, and started at OLB as a senior. He experienced defeat just five times in three seasons.

His top sports thrills are all with the Johnnies:

“My first  home game, seeing all the people in the stands. My senior year , the first playoff game (as a starter), when we played really well. And all the Johnny-Tommie games, with 13,000 people watching. You can’t beat that.”

About Gagliardi, he reflects: “Whenever people ask what he’s like, I tell them, like a grandfather. That’s how he treats you, and how he talks to you. He doesn’t yell. Not much. He yells at refs a lot.”

Eversman has been fortunate to play softball with the same core group of six guys for eight years, since his senior year, 2004 – Ebner, three Brant brothers, and Deano of Deano’s Collision, their first sponsor. Along the way they’ve won a state Class DD championship about four years ago and placed second another year. This year they’re slipped a bit with five losses but “it’s still always fun.” He also plays in an Albertville league on Thursdays.

A zealous weightlifter in high school and college, Eversman continues to pump iron four days a week duringnoon hours at a Lifetime Fitness, although at 6-foot-1 (almost) and 215 pounds he’s not as bulky as in college when he rumbled at 240 pounds.

He’s also an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman so one team sport is enough.

Some changes are coming up for Eversman. He and fiance Theresa have set a date (December  2012) and he has gone back to school nights at Bethel working toward a career switch to teaching.

“I want to teach either social studies or business,” he said. “My mother and sister are both teachers, and they’ve been urging me to teach … I’d rather help people than make a lot of money.”

THE EVERSMAN SCORECARD

Mitch Eversman

Personal file – Age: 25 … Family: fiance Theresa, parents Richard and Cindy, sister Abby … Sports: softball, formerly football, baseball … High school: ERHS … College: St. John’s graduate, currently Bethel … Occupation: management for computer softwae firm

Favorite stuff – TV show: “Man vs.Wild” on Discovery … Movie: “Saving Private Ryan” … Food: BBQ ribs … Reading: outdoor mags; favorite book is “Hatchet” … Team: Vikings, Twins … Athlete: Torii Hunter … Kickback: hunting, fishing … Places he’d like to visit: Amazon River to see the monster fish, Alabama & Louisiana to hunt ducks

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