Hutchinson welcomes home softball coach after 100 days of rehab for spinal cord injury


HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — A parade of cars passed through a Hutchinson neighborhood Saturday morning, all to welcome one man.

“We love you, Evans,” the Hutchinson High School Softball team yelled as they drove by.

Hutchinson High School softball coach and business teacher Clayton Evans is back home. Evans suffered a severe spinal cord injury in July, putting him through 100 days of rehab.

“Kind of riding a high right now of seeing my kids again and my wife and being a family again. But my family is also my co-workers, my players, my students, teachers, colleagues,” Evans said. “It’s so awesome to be back and feel so loved.”

The community that is more like family welcomed Evans home with cheers, signs, and long-awaited hugs.

“Just letting him know how much he means to us, to this community, to USD 308,” said Evans’ sister and parade organizer, Camille Eckhoff.

“It was so cool, and it was hard not to cry. I wanted to keep it together,” Evans said. “I couldn’t show the softball players how their coach is crying.”

The players on his softball team were thrilled to have their coach back. “It’s really great because he’s like a father to all of us, and we love him with all of our heart, and he loves us, right back,” said Senior Kylar Smith.

Evans says he has been moved by the community’s support.

“I think about it a million times a day. What has been going on and how I’ve been supported and just thank you.”

He said with that support he is ready to handle whatever challenges come next.

“Life’s gonna be tough, there is no doubt about that. Sometimes tougher than others, but you can’t give up you’ve got to find a way.”

Evans plans to spend the next month adjusting to life at home. His plan is to return to work at Hutchinson High School on November 15.

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