Pride Park striker Summer Evans spoke to Impetus editor Ben Gilby about her footballing journey and why she loves being a part of the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One side (26/5/22).
Above: Summer Evans on the charge for Pride Park against Mickleover Sports. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.
Summer Evans is a player with a superb goalscoring record. In 52 matches for Pride Park, she has scored 58 goals and is the club’s second-highest all-time scorer behind Maja Znamirowska.
Evans once scored a club record seven goals in one game back in October 2018. She is a dynamic, non-stop striker who never gives opposition defences a moment’s rest, doesn’t believe in lost causes, and isn’t afraid to go in where it hurts. Often being rewarded with goals.
Last season’s leading scorer for the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One club, Evans also tops Pride Park’s scoring chart with 14 from 11 games this season, despite missing almost half of their matches with injury.
The striker takes up the story of how she got involved with the game. “I started at a young age training with a number of teams growing up. In the early days when teams were mixed gender, I trained with Chesapeake and Derby County Academy.
“When I was old enough and confident enough I joined Little Eaton at the age of 11/12 and developed with them right through until we were an under-18s team.
“I then took a break, a quite big one, and decided after having my daughter I wanted to start playing again. I joined Pride Park a 2018/19 season and have remained there ever since.”
Whilst some players will name major sporting stars as their role model, for Evans, it is someone a lot closer to home.
“It’s my dad. He was the one that took me down the park most weekends to practise, bought my boots, and was on that touchline rain, sun or snow. He loved and still does love football, so I guess that’s where it all comes from. Oh, and he still is there on that touchline too every weekend he can!”
Pride Park’s top scorer came back into the squad late this season after a spell injured, and it’s a period that has been immensely challenging for her. “I don’t think I’ve felt so frustrated with myself, being unable to train or get on that pitch every Sunday.
“It’s probably the biggest challenge since getting back into the game after such a long time out. Fitness and confidence being the main challenges but it was the best decision I ever made. As far as changing me is concerned, it’s just made me love the game again and I gained a lot of friends I know I’ll have forever.
“At Pride Park the girls are amazing. I have definitely gained a few friends. On the pitch, when we are on form, it is amazing and we are strong and confident. My favourite thing about us is that I believe we are a friendly team to play with and we just go out to enjoy it. Obviously winning is a bonus and important too.
“Off the pitch, we have a good bond, we get together socially throughout the year and training is a laugh. I have a lot of respect for these girls and I’ve felt extremely welcome from day one.
“Joining a well bonded team that has girls that have been there for years and years is scary but I never once felt out of place.”
Pride Park play their football in the seventh-tier Derbyshire Ladies League Division and Evans highlighted what an incredible league it is.
“The league this year has some crazy competition. Which makes every game exciting. You just don’t know which way the results will go. I really find it hard to say who our toughest opponents have been, you cannot rule anyone out of this league.”
With the season having one more game to go, the Pride Park striker outlined her aims for the rest of the campaign. “I’d like to say my only aim right now is to just finish a season! Between COVID and the weather, we haven’t finished many since I’ve been at Pride Park! I wouldn’t mind another season as top goalscorer too of course.”
Taking a slightly longer-term view, Evans said: “If I look back in five years’ time, I’d have like Pride Park to achieve being league winners once or twice. Continuing to win trophies in tournaments would be great too. We did really well last summer in those.”