College holds memorial for football player Nathan Evans ’21 killed in Norfolk

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London speaks at the memorial of late Tribe football player Nate Evans ’21. JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

Monday March 25, members of the College of William and Mary’s community gathered in Kaplan Arena to mourn the loss of Nathan Evans ’21. Evans passed away the night of Thursday, March 21. The memorial served to honor his life on the football field, on the campus and in the world.  

The event, organized by the College, drew large crowds and featured speeches from his supporters, friends and family. In the entrance hall of the arena, tables were placed with index cards and markers, allowing students to write down their favorite memories of Evans for his family to keep. As people gathered in the stadium, a slide show presented pictures and videos of Evans time on the Tribe football team.   

The event began with a message and prayer from Wesley Campus Minster Max Blalock, dedicating the night to remembering and grieving Evans. The pastor emphasized the importance of togetherness during this time in grieving the life of Evans.   

“We are gathered here tonight to remember, to celebrate and to grieve Nate Evans,” Blalock said. “Tonight as we come together with his family, with his friends, with his team, with his community. We know that together we can find enough to hope. Courage enough to grieve, together, and compassion enough to uphold each other as we see one another, together.” 

After the prayer, College President Katherine Rowe delivered a few words on the loss the College community has experienced. Rowe spoke to how the College community will help grieve the passing of Evans together as one tribe 

“Nates life was vibrant and full of confidence,” Rowe said. We feel his loss so heavily because we know how much promise lay ahead. I want to say to you, that if you feel that loss, in anyway, know that you are not alone. We will help you; we together will help you to show that we are one tribe and one family, always.” 

“Nates life was vibrant and full of confidence,” Rowe said. We feel his loss so heavily because we know how much promise lay ahead. I want to say to you, that if you feel that loss, in anyway, know that you are not alone. We will help you; we together will help you to show that we are one tribe and one family, always.” 

College Athletic Director Samantha Huge went up to the podium to speak on Evans legacy and to honor his life. Huge spoke of the love that Evans possessed and how the community will fondly remember him and support each other in grief.  

“Nate was loved,” Huge said. Nate was loved as a son, as a brother, as a brother in law, as a grandson, as a nephew, as a teammate, as a friend. Tonight, we will laugh, and we will cry, and both are okay. None of us can tell another how to grieve; grief is deeply personal; what we can do, is sit with each other in our grief, hold each other, and ensure that no one is alone as we grieve the loss of Nate.” 

Head coach of the College’s varsity football team Mike London shared his thoughts on how he believed Evans legacy should be remembered. London described Evans as an inspiring young man.  

 “My speeches to the team, to get ready for games, are always full of energy because of the possibilities,” London said. “My speech today is still going to be full of energy and full of life because of [the] possibilities that everyone sitting in this room has the chance to achieve. Nate was competitive; he wanted the best out of everybody. ...”   

London then had the room help him recite Mother Teresa’s poem entitled “Anyway.” As London read the poem, the audience shouted the word “anyway” as it ended each stanza. The audience, together, created a large message dedicated to Evans and the lessons he shared.   

Evans’ close friend and roommate Carl Fowler ’21 spoke about his friendship with Nate, and how he wanted Evans to be remembered.  

“We’re going to remember him for the goofy kid that he was, and nothing less,” Fowler said. “…I know that if the roles were reversed Nate would be up here telling some outrageous lies about things that I did, and how cool and how awesome I was…but I don’t have to lie, … he was kind, loving and big hearted. … I was blessed to have known him and blessed to be able to tell the truth.” 

Fowler continued to honor Evans with stories that he felt embodied Evans genuinenes and the kind of person he was. 

“Nate ended up being our Freshman of the Year, and I didn’t even play [football],” Fowler said. “Every Saturday I would go up to him and say ‘Man, you had a great game;’ he wouldn’t thank me or acknowledge what I said. He would say ‘Your time is coming big dog, keep working bro.’”   

Fowler also shared how fearless he remembers Evans was.  

“… Whatever you believe, Nates free,” Fowler said. He’s free from things he woke up and battled every day, free from things on Earth that brought him pain. He’s free from fear, but Nate never feared anything anyways.” 

Fowler emphasized the positive legacy Evans left on this world: his kindhearted nature, his courage and his pride. 

“He saw people’s potential and believed they could do things they never considered,” Fowler said. He went out of his way to make other people smile, even on days he couldn’t smile himself. … He picked people up who were struggling and told them to focus on the now. He was always his own person; he did what he wanted to; he wore what he wanted to, and he said what he wanted to, regardless of whether somebody else thought it was cool or not because if Nate did it, it was cool.”  

Near the end of the event, Stephanie Dulaney, mother of Evans’ teammate Josh Dulaney, read a letter written by Evans mother, addressed to her late son. The letter detailed the love she had for her son and the gift she believed him to be. 

“I thought long and hard about what to name you,” Dulaney read. I wanted your name to reflect all that I knew you would be. When I found the name Nathan, meaning gift from God, I knew that would be your first name. … When I found Andrew [Evans’ middle name] it meant strong warrior I found your forever name, Nathan Andrew. …The people that really knew you, knew despite what you struggled with inside, you desired to make everyone else happy. You were my world Nate, my everything. …Though the road ahead seems strangely dark without you, I will keep your light every minute of every day.” 

You were my world Nate, my everything. …Though the road ahead seems strangely dark without you, I will keep your light every minute of every day,” Dulaney said.

The event ended with Blalock asking the room to hold and embrace one another to grieve the loss of Evans and joyously remember his legacy. After, an audience member stood and sang “Amazing Grace” loudly to the crowd to end the ceremony.