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Davis Journal

Mom and daughter duo leading Bountiful volleyball

Nov 03, 2022 03:41PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Bountiful High’s Evi Chism shares in her senior night Oct. 18 with her family.

Whether or not it’s a storybook ending for Bountiful High’s Evalyn “Evi” Chism as a setter for the Redhawks volleyball program, it’s certainly been a fairy-tale journey for the senior and her mom, Sarah Chism, who is the BHS head coach.

Coach Chism, who has been heading up the program for eight years has had an especially sweet experience the past four seasons in sharing the court with her daughter. 

“Because I’m coaching all of the girls, I really don’t have the ability to spend much time with her to explain things all of the time, but because we already have an emotional bank account between us, I can be more short and direct with her and she accepts and even appreciates that,” Sarah Chism said. “Coaching her has been truly a dream though because she listens to feedback and the changes she makes are tangible and immediate.”

“It’s been very very special to share this experience with my mom,” the daughter of Matt and Sarah Chism of Bountiful said, particularly noting the celebration of the Redhawks’ 5A state title last season. “What an incredible journey it has been to go through the struggles and trials and come out on top.”

Evi grew up mainly playing basketball before deciding around her junior high years that volleyball was the sport for her. “I loved the sport as well as the connection it brought me and my mom,” she said. Coach Chism, who by then was the head coach at Bountiful and had led the team to consecutive 4A state championships in 2015 and 2016, said, “Evi was always in the gym when I was coaching the high school girls and she thought it looked so fun and the girls were so nice to her,” Sarah Chism said. “She just loved watching and waiting for her turn to try out and be a part of the team.”

With her commitment to volleyball, Evi was also determined to be a setter, just like her mom, despite Sarah’s encouragement that she try another position on the court. “She wanted to touch the ball a lot and direct the team where to go and have an impact on the game,” Sarah Chism said. 

After beginning to develop her skills in club volleyball – where her mom “has always been there even if she wasn’t my direct coach,” Evi excelled quickly within the high school varsity ranks. As a freshman starting setter, she led her team to a top-five finish and then a 5A state semifinal spot, where Bountiful lost to eventual champion Timpview, as a sophomore in a year where she earned Third Team All-State recognition.

It was that 2020 final four loss that pushed Evi to “constantly try to progress,” and her individual and the team’s collective efforts culminated in the state title last fall as a First Team All-State player this time around.

“Pressure moments don’t affect Evi, and she really came like that,” Sarah Chism said. “The way she sees the game is very strategic and she has a real feel for the flow of the game. She makes her teammates better through her consistent play, and I can also trust that she’s going to make the right decisions.”

This season, the 5’10” setter eclipsed the 3,000 career assists mark in a match against Lone Peak early in October and currently sits at third all-time in Utah with 3,134. The Bountiful squad she runs the offense for is currently 25-1 and they are ramping up to defend their state title which would be their fourth championship since Coach Chism was brought in a month into the 2015 season – with her college teammate Sabrina Hughes – to be interim coaches. Chism has a record of 178-46 over her eight seasons with Bountiful and has also led the program to six region titles in that span, including the last two Region 5 championships.

With this being Evi’s last year of high school volleyball, there is certainly some emotion tied to the season for mother and daughter. “Instead of focusing on everything being her last though, we’re choosing to embrace and celebrate what we’ve done,” Sarah Chism said. “We also want to focus on the task at hand, what’s in front of us and take care of business.” 

After the season, Evi will graduate early and move on to play for Utah Valley University where she will follow in her mother’s footsteps as a collegiate volleyball player – Sarah Chism played for three years at Dixie College and the University of Utah during the mid-1990s. “I always wanted to play college sports and I feel so blessed to be able to keep playing the sport that I love,” Evi said.  Her mom saw that potential in her daughter to play at the next level as well. “Mentally, I knew Evi could be there as she’s such a high IQ player and has the competitiveness and drive, so I just felt like if she could do it physically, that was all it would take,” Sarah Chism said. 

Evi said that UVU matched up with what she was looking for in a college program. “It was important for me to find a coaching situation like my mom created here where they truly care about you as a person and your overall development, not just with volleyball,” she said. “My mom talks about how volleyball seems like it’s so important right now, but it will end at some point and she has taught us countless things like how to be a leader, be a good teammate, pull people along, ask for help, work through hard things and keep going, learn from trials and have grit and not give up.”

Sarah Chism said, “Evi has learned everything that I have and I’m so proud of how well-rounded she is in seeing volleyball for what it is and not having it be her identity. I’m excited for what’s ahead for her. It’s going to be so awesome to just literally now go and cheer and be her biggest fan.”

Evi’s cheering squad will also include her dad and three brothers – two of whom played basketball for Bountiful – and her 14-year-old brother, Landon, who’s become the tallest of the bunch and is playing volleyball as his sport of choice.

And though the time on the court will end for Evi and her mom together, the memories and their close relationship will remain. “She hasn’t just been my volleyball coach, she’s also my life coach,” Evi said. “And my best friend,” Sarah Chism added. λ