RICHLANDS, Va. – Richlands High School band director Bruce Miller remembers the day a rambunctious sixth grader bounded into his class, so full of energy she reminded him of "Tigger" – the lovable and dynamic Disney character.
The bouncy, hyper kid was Evan Ferrell and she soon would be playing the trumpet in Richlands' marching band. By the time she was a senior, Ferrell was a
band captain and belting out a trumpet solo in front of packed houses at the halftime of Richlands' football games.
Richlands softball coach Rhonda Blevins has also witnessed Ferrell's boundless amounts of energy first hand.
Oftentimes the veteran leader of the Blue Tornado will be driving home after a grueling practice or even a game and will see some familiar feet pounding the
It will be her star pitcher, Ferrell, logging some miles in her constant cross-country training sessions and getting her fix in with a daily run.
"I wish I could bottle all her energy up and sell it," Blevins has said on more than one occasion. "I would make a fortune."
Ferrell does nothing at half speed. If she undergoes a task, she's all in.
It's that drive to succeed that has helped Ferrell make the most of her four years of high school.
"I've been very busy, but I like being busy," Ferrell said. "I don't know what I would do if I wasn't busy. I've just gotten used to doing something all the time."
There's not much Ferrell hasn't done during her time at Richlands.
She's been a softball star, starting for one of the Southwest District's top programs for four years. First in right field, then as a shortstop and she's slid into the
role of ace pitcher this spring.
In basketball, she's a three-year starter and showed that she can deal with pressure situations, like when she connected on the game-winning shot against
Abingdon in a SWD tournament game this past season.
Meanwhile, running has become her passion. Taking up cross country as a sophomore, she's excelled in distance events for the Blue Tornado's cross country
and track teams.
She earned a scholarship to King College and will run for the NCAA Division II program this fall. That's impressive considering that Ferrell only took up the
sport three years ago.
It's another example of her going full-bore when being presented with a challenge.
"I got involved in the 10th grade and I just really liked it a lot," Ferrell said. "It's just something about running – people think you wouldn't want to do it, but once
you start doing it, it gets into you and makes you just want to do it more."
Then there are her duties in the school's band. Oh yeah, don't forget the straight A's that line her report card or that she's never met a Standards of Learning
test she hasn't mastered.
Her routine leaves many at Richlands shaking their heads in amazement.
"She makes straight A's and is at the top of her game in sports," said classmate and friend Kiera Wicks. "I don't know how she does it. Not many people
could do it. She has a great attitude and usually brightens everyone's day too."
Ferrell's compassionate roots lay largely in her faith.
She is a dedicated member of Claypool Hill Bible Church. While most teenagers with Ferrell's hectic schedule might want to sleep in on Sunday mornings,
Ferrell is active in her church and recently completed 10 years of training in the Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (AWANA) program.
She mentors the youngsters in her church and her faith bolsters her on those lung-burning runs as her two favorite bible verses – Philippians 4:13 and Isaiah
40:31 – are written on her well-worn running shoes.
"Church is the most important thing to me," she said.
In the classroom, Ferrell admits to being a numbers person and that math is her favorite subject.
It's fitting since numbers have played a big part in her life the last four years. There's the 4.056 GPA. The career batting average that hovers over .400. Her top
5,000-meter time is 20:12. There's the 6:30 a.m. arrival at school each day.
The final equation of all those numbers is impressive. Four years and countless experiences have equaled a well-rounded person.
"I've just worked hard, just to make sure I could keep up with sports and my grades," Ferrell said.
And she's still as energetic as she was the day she first walked into the Richlands band room six years ago.