Madera Tribune File Photo
Former Madera kicker Even Rios, pictured with holder Adrian Guillen in 2015, will continue kicking for Western New Mexico University in the fall.
Former Madera Coyotes kicker Evan Rios announced on his Twitter page that he will be kicking for the Western New Mexico University Mustangs in the fall.
Rios, who recently kicked at Fresno City College, has had a roller-coaster journey to a four-year college.
The 2016 graduate originally signed to the University of Nevada-Reno as a preferred walk-on. After a coaching change, Rios was released from the team and then headed to Fresno City College.
While with the Rams, Rios was 18-of-27 on field goal attempts and missed just six extra points (77-of-83) in two years.
“It’s definitely been a ride,” Rios said. “It hasn’t been easy. I stuck to the plan and stayed committed. My family and friends helped me out a lot with the transition and kept my head on straight. Everybody in the Madera community has been great with the support. They have been incredible. To me, that motivated me to keep going, get my education and get to the next level.”
Now, Rios will continue his playing career and education at the Div. II school out of the Lone Star Conference.
“They contacted me,” he said. “They sent me out there for a trip. It reminded me a little bit about Madera. It clicked and felt like home. They gave me a good offer and it worked out best for me and my family. I really like the coaching staff. They have good Mexican food there, too.”
The path for Rios hasn’t been the straightest, but he wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for the support, not only at home, but also in Madera.
“I love it here,” he said. “There’s a bunch of people rooting for you. They are all around. They aren’t hard to find that are genuinely there for you to succeed. The Madera football program has been great, letting me come out to practice and help coach the players.”
Rios will major in business management and his goal is to own businesses and, hopefully expand. However, the ultimate goal is still in his sights.
“The ultimate goal is to play professionally,” he said. “My goal is to get to the next level, wherever it takes me. I know God has a plan. We’ll see after the next two years. We’ll see what happens.”
Rios will handle all of the kicking duties for the Mustangs — field goals, extra points, punts and kick offs.
“I’ve been working on my craft on punting for a long time. That added value,” he said.
Rios’ parents have been to almost every game and it will be a transition to be a little further away than Fresno or even Reno to watch games, but he said they will be there more often than not.
“It’s definitely a transition for them,” he said. “They are definitely willing to make the drive or make the flight. A lot of my games are by local airports. It’s definitely a change for both of us. I’m a little more grown now. It’s easier now to say good-bye. It’s just two years. I know they will come and support me.”
For a football player whose career started after an injured knee playing soccer in his freshman year to becoming a collegiate-level athlete, the hard work has paid off for Rios.
“It’s been crazy transitioning from high school to never playing to now and this is what is keeping me going,” he said. “It’s paving and paying way through college. I can’t take anything for granted. I’ve been working hard on my craft and hard in the classroom, as well. It’s been an overall grind, but it’s been great, as well. I couldn’t see myself going to college without playing a sport, to be honest.”