Entering her 16th season at the helm of Texas A&M softball, Jo Evans has made her mark on the Aggies, taking them from a team with a lot of history into a formidable contender on the national stage.
One of the winningest active Division I coaches in softball today, Evans guided Texas A&M to a program-best No. 2 national ranking and a school-record, 10-straight NCAA Tournament appearances since 2002.
Evans has led the Aggies to three Big 12 titles (2005 regular season and 2008 regular season and tournament), 12 NCAA Regional appearances (including 10 straight) and four NCAA Super Regional Appearances.
In her tenure, Texas A&M has advanced to the NCAA postseason 12 times, including two consecutive trips to the Women's College World Series (WCWS) in 2007-08. After A&M returned to the WCWS for the first time in 20 seasons in 2007, the '08 Aggies gutted their way to the Championship Series and posted a national runner-up finish in addition to the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles. A&M compiled the most victories in school history with a 57-10 overall record and led the nation with a .983 fielding percentage. Evans and Associate Head Coaches Joy Jackson and Mary Jo Firnbach were voted the 2008 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
The three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year claimed her 900th career coaching victory against Sacred Heart in the NCAA College Station Regional on May 20, 2011, after becoming the 25th all-time Division I coach to reach the 800-win milestone in NCAA history, which she accomplished in 2009.
Evans' Aggies have posted 15-straight, 30-win seasons, including six 40-win seasons and a program-best 57 wins in 2008. A&M has compiled an impressive 589-286-2 (.674) record under Evans and continues to reach new heights.
Numerous student-athletes have flourished with Evans' guidance to garner national, regional and conference recognition. She has directed 14 All-Americans, 32 all-region selections and 63 All-Big 12 honorees. Four Aggies have been named the Big 12 Player of the Year, three were chosen as the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, one as a two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and two as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Three Aggies made Big 12 history. In 2008, three-time All-American Megan Gibson marked the first time a single athlete achieved both the player and pitcher of the year honors, in 2009 Natalie Villarreal was the first sophomore in league history to be named the defensive player of the year, and in 2010 Meagan May broke the conference record for home runs in a season with 24 during her rookie campaign. Villarreal took defensive-player-of-the-year honors again as a junior in 2011.
Evan's players also excel in the classroom as the Aggies have earned 45 Academic All-Big 12 awards, and two-time All-American and former Texas A&M volunteer assistant coach Amanda Scarborough went on to become an academic All-American in 2007. Villarreal was named to the Academic Momentum Award first team for continued improvement in the classroom in the fall of 2011.
Evans came to Texas A&M in the summer of 1996 with 11 years of collegiate coaching experience and an adeptness and capacity to build winning programs. She replaced Bob Brock, who stepped aside after three national championship titles and 15 years at the helm of the Aggies. Although A&M experienced tremendous success under Brock during the 1980s, the Aggies had not been to the College World Series since 1988 and won its last national championship in 1987.
Evans began her head-coaching career at Colorado State University in 1986, following two seasons as an assistant coach at Florida State. The Rams finished with a 13-16 record in her first season as head coach, but it was in her fourth and final season that Evans took the program to new heights. That year the Rams finished with a 37-14 record and a co-conference championship title. Evans, who led CSU to a 91-67 mark during her four-year stint, collected back-to-back High Country Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors her final two seasons and was chosen as the Central Region Coach of the Year in 1989.
Evans returned home, to Utah, in 1991 to take over at her alma mater and quickly got things going as she directed the Utes to a trip to the College World Series in just her second year. That season and the following year Utah captured back-to-back Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular season and tournament titles. In '91, Evans' Utes defeated Texas A&M at the NCAA Regionals in College Station to advance to Oklahoma City. Their quest for a second straight trip to the CWS was cut short, however, when they lost to the eventual national champion UCLA in the '92 regional finals.
In 1994, the Utes returned for their second appearance in the World Series under Evans with record-setting performances along the way. The Utes rewrote the Utah record books for virtually every statistical category including most wins (51), best finish in the World Series (5th), highest national ranking (7th) and best winning percentage (.797), to name a few. Evans earned her second WAC Coach of the Year award and was also named as the West Region Coach of the Year by her peers.
When A&M came calling in 1996, the opportunity was too sweet to pass up. The facilities, history, budget and entire Aggie experience overwhelmed Evans on her visit and she knew she was ready for the move and for a new challenge.
"Leaving Utah and coming to A&M was the toughest decision I have ever had to make," said Evans. "I was incredibly happy at Utah and I was excited about what we had accomplished.
"I was familiar with A&M because I had competed against them as a player and a coach for many years and was impressed with what they had been able to do. When I got the call about the position I didn't know that I was interested, but after talking to them for over an hour I got excited. I wondered what it would be like to leave my comfort zone and rebuild another program at a place that had the facilities and budget that A&M offered.
"When I came on my visit I was impressed by the facilities and the idea of being able to practice outside in the winter (year-round practices) as well as being able to compete in the Big 12 Conference. I ultimately took this job because I thought I needed a new challenge. I was excited to get the opportunity to come here. I felt like I had done what I could at Utah and it was time to move on."
As a player at Utah, Evans earned High Country All-Conference Honors in 1982 as she led the team to a World Series appearance. She also was named as an ASA All-American in Women's Class-A Nationals.
Evans is the daughter of Bill and Bonnie Evans of Salt Lake City. She has three siblings, her oldest sister, Karen, and brother, Craig, live in Salt Lake City, and sister, Vicki, lives in Walnut Cove, North Carolina.