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The Gnarly Adventures Of Grace And Roxanne
After months of working long hours to save up for a van, Grace Eversaul found a new partner in crime in Roxanne, her Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
After months of working long hours to save up for a van, Grace Eversaul found a new partner in crime in Roxanne, her Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Grace Eversaul celebrates after scoring the opening and game-winning goal in the national semifinals against Flagler.
Grace Eversaul celebrates after scoring the opening and game-winning goal in the national semifinals against Flagler.

Monday, October 26, 2020
by Kaho Akau, GNAC Media Relations Assistant

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Grace Eversaul is her own worst critic.

Even as a veteran on the Western Washington women’s soccer team, the senior midfielder still struggles with accepting that her best is good enough. She works on not being too hard on herself but her competitive nature takes over. And as she enters her last hurrah with the Vikings, her goal is to just have fun.

“I have high expectations,” Eversaul said. “It pushes me to improve but simultaneously hinders my mental health because I feel like I never meet those expectations. It’s the perfectionist in me. I try not to overthink and enjoy the game because that’s when I play my best.”

Every new expectation brings more failure in Eversaul’s eyes. The constant self-criticism and telling herself that she is not good enough is exhausting. She is still learning to find the joys of playing soccer because when she is having fun, she can’t be stopped.

Soccer is a lot more enjoyable when you’re on the winning side, and the Vikings did a lot of winning in 2019. The Vikings finished the season with a 23-3-0 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship match for the second time in program history and the first time since 2016, the year they won it all.

Advancing to the national championship match brought extra nerves but it didn’t put a huge weight on the Vikings’ shoulders. They weren’t stressed at all. They knew that all they had to do was do what they do best: play soccer.

“We never took a moment for granted and I could see the passion come alive in every player,” she said. “I was passionate and worked hard, but I also tried to have fun on and off the field.”

Eversaul was selected to the all-tournament team after she scored three goals in the Vikings’ postseason push. She scored the golden goal in a 1-0 double-overtime victory over Cal State LA in the second round of the West Regional and then notched an insurance goal in a 3-0 rout of Dixie State in the national quarterfinals.

Neither of those goals tops the third, though. With a trip to the title match on the line, Eversaul scored the biggest goal of her career: a game-winner in the ninth minute of a 2-0 national semifinals win over previously undefeated Flagler.

“It felt like all of my hard work, pain and suffering had paid off,” she said. “It brought a joy that I had never experienced before and I am forever grateful and proud of that moment.”

That moment proved that her decision to attend Western Washington was a no-brainer.

A native of Vancouver, Washington, Eversaul knew that she was joining a soccer program with a winning culture. But there was more than just soccer that attracted her to the Bellingham area. The hiking. The backpacking. The skiing. The rock climbing. The camping. The beautiful sights from the North Cascades to the San Juan Islands. It was all a perfect fit for the adventure junkie in her.

A lot of outdoor activities come free of charge, but Eversaul’s idea of exploring the outdoors required a little more financial stability. During her sophomore year, she came up with the idea of saving up to buy a van that she would turn into a mobile home of sorts. But she had no money. She was already struggling to pay for rent and other life necessities, let alone a ticket to see a movie with some friends. How would she be able to afford a van?

“I had to be smart with my money,” she said. “I wanted to have a little relief of money stress. I had no free time. I went to school then went straight to soccer practice. After that, I went to work and then stayed up every night doing homework. The days became monotonous and I was tired of penny-pinching and not being able to spend time with anyone.”

Eversaul is no stranger to hard work, but a collegiate student-athlete needs a break every now and then. In order to get the van that she wanted, however, she needed to keep working. She did everything that she could to save up the money. She did yardwork, babysat, sold clothes and even got a job as a referee and field marshal at an indoor soccer arena.

By summer, she finally had enough money saved up and purchased a 2003 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which she named Roxanne. After three months of fine-tuning everything with her grandfather, Dean, she and Roxanne were ready to hit the road.

While 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have brought nothing but uncertainty, they also gave Eversaul a chance to get acquainted with Roxanne. She went on a two-week road trip in July with some friends, starting along the Oregon coast then heading over to Colorado, up to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, through Montana and Idaho and back to home base in Bellingham.

Shortly after, she went on another two-week trek down the California coast to go surfing, stopping at Joshua Tree National Park and Lake Tahoe on her way back up to Bend, Oregon, where her parents now live.

“This spring and summer were when I was finally able to take the van on some gnarly trips,” she said. “The outdoors are and have always been a huge part of my life. I have a massive love for Mother Nature. I always feel this sense of ease, belonging and inspiration whenever I’m immersed in nature.”

A recreation management and leadership major with a minor in biology, Eversaul sees a future of working outdoors with people and showing them the importance of protecting the planet. In her time at Western Washington, she has learned strategies to properly manage the land so the next generation will be able to enjoy nature the same way she does.

“A goal in my life has been to show others nature’s beauty and the importance of protecting it and spreading environmental awareness to get people to care,” she said. “I want to someday work for or potentially start a nonprofit organization that focuses on these passions.”

Eversaul might not be able to avoid pushing herself to be better on the field and in the classroom. It’s part of what has made her one of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s elite soccer players and an all-around stellar woman. But if she ever needs a quick getaway to unwind, Roxanne will be there waiting.

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