An accomplished basketball player, coach and athletic director in the Wyoming Valley Conference died Thursday after a long illness.
Joe Evan spent 27 years at Wyoming Valley West High School coaching basketball and directing athletics.
He was the AD who hired me, Wyoming Valley Wets swimming coach Frank Tribendis said. Without him, I probably wouldn't be a swim coach. He was a great guy. He could see things in people that others couldn't.
Wyoming Valley West hired Evan as the school's first head basketball coach in 1966. Four years later, Evan led the Spartans to their only Wyoming Valley Conference Championship in their first 30 years. His efforts earned him the first spot in the Wyoming Valley West Basketball Wall of Fame.
He was very good coach, Wyoming Valley West principal Jim Ferris said. He knew the game very well and enjoyed it.
In 1972, Evan became the athletic director at Wyoming Valley West where he worked for 21 years and gained status as a leader of the Wyoming Valley Conference.
He was like an elder statesman, Ferris said. A lot of other people looked up to him and sought out his advice.
Current Wyoming Valley West athletic director Sandy Mackay coached six sports teams during Evan's tenure.
He was great to work for because he was a coach and knew the ins and outs of what it took to be an athletic director, Mackay said. He always thought of students first.
His accomplishments in sports earned him an induction into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
Evan also taught as well as being director of athletics.
When he was the athletic director, he was teaching social studies courses and he took his teaching job very seriously, Ferris said. He wouldn't let athletic matters get in the way.
After Evan retired in 1993, Mackay took over and knew he had big shoes to fill.
He was a hard person to replace because he was very well-liked and well organized, Mackay said.
Before his 27 years at Wyoming Valley West, Evan played basketball at Plymouth High School. As a senior, Evan led Plymouth to the district championship, hitting the game-winning shot in the district championship game.
He moved on to coach at St. Vincent High School in Plymouth where he led the 1957 team to an undefeated season and a state title. He also coached basketball at Plymouth High School, where he won district championships as an assistant and head coach. While at Plymouth, Evan also won five championships as a baseball coach in the 1960s.
Despite his accomplishments in his career, he cared most about his wife, Joan Olshefski, daughter, Joann, son, Joseph and daughter-in-law Renata.
He always thought about his family first, Mackay said. He always told me, ‘It doesn't matter if you're coaching. Think about your family first.'