Through the years the high school junior began to fall in love with the sport of racing. Although Evans didn’t have a means and didn’t know anyone in the sport, he dreamed of being able to one day explode with acceleration from the start line of an official Bicycle Motorcross (BMX) race.
When his family moved to Cleveland from Kentucky in 2004 Evans was thrilled to learn the YMCA had a bike racing track but it wasn’t until five years later that he entered his first competition.
“Last summer when I heard about a bike race a friend of mine and I rode our bikes all the way there because we didn’t have a ride,” Evans said. “Since we were early we just rode around the track until it was time to register.”
He may have never raced in an official competition, but that didn’t hold him back from being a determined and aggressive competitor. After placing third the rest is history. He was hooked and couldn’t wait for the next race. The medal he received — showing proof of his achievements stirred up desire to get a collection of medals and trophies.
Evans said he was shocked and happy to find out there was an opportunity to do something he really liked.
“Its a lot of fun to do and the people who are in the sport make it fun too,” said Evans. “Some of them spend thousands of dollars on their bike and equipment and there are some people who just like going out there and simply riding a bike.”
Wyatt Bevis, unit director of the L. Harlen Painter Unit Boys and Girls Club saw Evans’ interest and began helping him pursue the sport. After a few practice sessions with Evans, Bevis knew he had a natural ability, combined with some exceptional biking skills. In addition to being a friend, Bevis became Evans’ personal coach.
Seated on his bike more than any other seat, Evans rides for hours every single day. One thing he has discovered is how quickly a bike can wear out and how often equipment needs to be replaced.
“Since I was 4 I have had to get a new bike every year because I wear them out,” he said.
Having the right BMX gear and equipment is essential to the sport. Thankfully the Boys and Girls Club is helping to sponsor him. According to Evans he would still be racing in a long sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans without assistance.
“If it wasn’t for the Boys and Girls Club I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have the Redline bike, knee pads, gloves or the helmet. The support they give me is the best,” said Evans.
In October the guy who has ridden bikes for fun most of his 16 years became a BMX champion. All of his hard work and countless hours of practice paid off. He had the opportunity to compete in the 16 Novice class of the “BMX 2010 Redline Cup National” in Kettering, Ohio. The three-day event turned out to be an experience of a lifetime experience for Evans.
“He entered the competition tied with five others in first place,” Bevis said. “The three-day process combined his finishes from each race to score the overall Redline Cup Champion for his age group and skill level.”
Evans finished in second place on both Friday and Saturday. He was tied for the lead with one other racer entering Sunday’s event.
“He knew he would have to win the race in order to become the champion,” said Bevis. “When the gate dropped Kendall took off and led the race all the way to the finish line.”
The incredible win on Sunday gave Evans enough points in the overall standings to claim the Redline Cup Championship. Along with the title of National Champion, he gets to ride with a “National #1” number plate on his bike next season.
Winning the biggest race he’s entered in only one year of competing has been an extraordinary accomplishment for Evans.
“I felt like I had to represent my family and friends which pumped me up to do my best,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe how far I had come. When I first started I was terrible but with practice and making up my mind I did it.”
Evans’ biggest goal right now is to make it in the top 15 of the nation. Since school has begun he has cut back on practice a little but still gets in three or more days practice with his coach.
To those interested in the sport Evans suggests they work hard to be prepared.
“It’s a lot of fun, but to be successful you have to work really hard.”
A dream come true for Evans and his bike-riding friends would be for the middle and high schools to start a bike team.
“It’s something my friends and I hope for and talk about all the time,” he said.
According to Bevis, Evans is in the running for trying out for the Junior Development Camp for those born between 1994 and 1995.
“If he qualifies he will travel to California to train with top BMX racers around the world and have the opportunity to be looked at for the Olympic team.”
Until the next BMX competition begins Evans will stay focused on his goals, work hard in school and plan for the future.
Charlie Sutton, executive director of The Boys and Girls Club said Maria Hernandez, “Youth of the Year” and “Runner-Up National Youth of The Year” has been encouraging Kendall to be a part of the youth of the year program.
“Kendall has become the BMX rider to beat in the southeast. We are very proud of his accomplishments. As a one-year rookie he is already getting the interest of others who are considering underwriting him,” Sutton said. “We expect big things from him.” Evans realizes the status and the title of champion can be used as a platform to help others. He has already had opportunities to mentor younger kids at The Boys and Girls Club.
“I used to want go to culinary school because I love to make things but recently I’ve noticed teenagers down and depressed. They come to me for help so I’ve made my mind up to do youth counseling.”