"Soft spoken" and "intense competitor" are two phrases used by those who know her to describe Gretchen Prather-Evans. Immediately they add "exceptional student" and "superb athlete."
Gretchen entered Drury in the fall of 1986, with an outstanding high school record, academically and athletically. She was a cum laude graduate four years later, following a career path into hotel management. Between and beyond those biographical milestones, her career was, and is, spectacular. Scholarships in academics, music and athletics rewarded her all-around skills. When not occupied on a tennis court or in a classroom, she was a member of the concert, jazz and pep bands and was involved in community service.
Prather-Evans ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles each of her four years at Drury. She led her teams to two NAIA District 16 championships and won the singles championship in three of her four years. She and doubles partners Debra Kirchhoefer and Gena Summers took top district honors three times. In her junior year, Gretchen advanced to the third round of the NAIA national tournament. She also is the first tennis player to be inducted into the Drury Sports Hall of Fame.
With all that winning, how could she possibly have emphasized the academic side? She more than managed. "It was automatic for me to always bring my books with me on weekend trips," she remembers. "During the season, I always had to plan ahead and meet with instructors if I was going to miss a class. I remember that when returning from a trip, all I wanted to do was to relax, but most of the time I was studying and preparing for class the next day." The studying showed results. Twice she earned a spot on the NAIA Scholar-Athlete Team, and Volvo recognized her as one of the nation's top student-athletes.
She also sees a correlation between her experiences at Drury and life after college. "Don't limit yourself. You can succeed in more than one area. At school, I worked at academics, tennis and music. After school, I worked hard to balance career, family and other activities."
Today Gretchen Prather-Evans is a manager at Pat Riha Productions in Kansas City, Mo., specializing in trade shows and special events. Her husband David ('93) is vice president and managing partner at a Kansas City architectural firm. Their son Jordan is three years old. Gretchen still enjoys tennis, participating in local leagues. "I make it a priority to keep playing tennis competitively and socially." The play that made her Drury years fun continues, even as the hard work she did in class helps her career move forward.
Related Links:Drury Athletic Hall of Fame