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April 3, 2003

Pallotti grad overcomes challenge to serve others

From: Laurel Leader, MD - Apr 3, 2003

By David Driver

Todd McEvers had already attended two other high schools, in Missouri and Illinois, when he entered St. Vincent Pallotti High in Laurel as a sophomore in 1981. His father's job with a property management company brought his family to South Laurel, and McEvers had to learn a new set of friends once again at Pallotti. That was made more difficult due to his physical challenge.

"Being hearing impaired was never easy when it came to making friends, and often students at that age just don't understand," McEvers says in a recent e-mail. McEvers' mother, Carol, said she and her husband were told of his hearing impairment when Todd was in kindergarten. "It is pretty severe," she says. She added that doctors said the loss may have occurred at birth, and the situation has not improved.

McEvers was not an exceptional athlete but did play baseball at Pallotti for former head coach Steve Walker. "He was a good kid. He worked hard," says Walker, now the school's athletic director.

McEvers graduated from Pallotti in 1983, and a few weeks later his family moved to Nevada. McEvers got a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Nevada-Reno and eventually got his master's degree in secondary education from Arizona State University.

He is currently in his eighth year as a teacher and coach at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Ariz. The school is on the largest Navajo reservation in the United States, according to McEvers.

"Todd is a very interesting story," says Kurt Bagelmann, a friend and baseball teammate from Pallotti who is a senior account executive for a radio station in California. "He seems to me like a guy who has found his calling. He could certainly go someplace else and make more money, but he has decided to stay. ... It is kind of inspiring." Todd's mother, Carol, who lives in suburban Phoenix, says her only child found out about the position during a job fair at Arizona State. "The school district needed someone to teach. It fit like a glove. This was the Navajo reservation and a whole different world."

"The Navajo reservation is within the four corners area of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico," Todd writes. "We are about 20 minutes from Monument Valley National Park. Considered a local, I have access to areas that are considered off-limits to tourists."

McEvers has had to deal with being hearing impaired his entire life. His mother says, "As a boy he had some major things to overcome. Whenever you are different from other kids, especially in his generation ... It seems today (kids) are more forgiving."

"I'm hearing impaired and this has affected my life in every way," McEvers says. "My hearing has become worse and I'm often afraid to use the phone. I'm comfortable talking with family and friends as I know their voices. When I'm in the classroom or coaching a sport, I don't usually have difficulty as I'm honest with my teams and let me them know what I need from them to make me a better coach for them. Amazingly, the people I have the most difficulty with are fellow teachers. My students and players do a better job of speaking to me directly and showing a better understanding of my needs."

McEvers, who is single, is more than a teacher and coach to young people at the reservation. He also has three foster sons: Markus, Josh and Elijah. Markus is married, has a daughter and works in the Phoenix area with a bank. Josh is a student at Arizona State, and Elijah is a high school senior.

McEvers' mother says her son is giving to a fault. "It is extremely hard as a parent looking at what all he has done," she says. "As a mom, I just want to shake him sometimes. You need to do a little something special for yourself. He always tried to help kids who are in trouble."

McEvers says he patterns his baseball coaching after Walker. "I can remember so many things vividly from those years and try to coach in the way he did, which was the only way I've come to know," McEvers writes. "I wasn't the greatest player and did (make) my share of mistakes, but there were great moments, too."

David Driver is the sports editor of the Leader.

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