What is an Ace? Uh… duh a weird guy on a deck of cards.


While this isn’t wrong, it falls quite short of what a Purple Ace is at the University of Evansville. Unlike other schools, a simple tiger or eagle wouldn’t do; such a unique school needed an equally unique mascot to encompass the identity of the students who attend and, more specifically, the student-athletes who compete wearing that strange looking guy on their jerseys.


The University of Evansville has 17 division 1 sport teams and competes largely in the Missouri Valley Conference. The teams that are in season throughout the Fall include volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, cross country, men’s golf, and women’s golf. However, training for those out of season never ceases. The grueling schedule of an athlete is never finished. I should know! I am a student-athlete here at UE and all too often I limit my identity to strictly athlete. With a schedule so demanding, it’s easy to lose a sense of self outside of your sport.

I want this series to remind Aces and their fans that an athlete’s identity resonates far deeper than their performance. I want to make a space that acknowledges the achievements of student-athletes no matter the relation to student or athlete it may have.

The identity of these young adults is far more intricate than the limited label of student-athlete, and all too often we fail to recognize these individuals as more than a number on a field.


With 15% of the student population at UE also doubling as athletes, that staggering number of Aces contains a plethora of stories that are much more than what meets the eye. So, I bring to you, Behind the Face of the ACES. A place to find the untold stories of your favorite Purple Ace players.

Coming from the “Show-Me State” is Purple Ace Mark Shallenberger. He is entering his fifth year at the University of Evansville, yet he is far from finished with his baseball career.

He wears number 32 on the field, but there is much more to know about him…

Shallenberger has graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Psychology and is now pursuing his Master’s Degree of Science in Leadership with the hope for a future career as a coach, therapist, or sports psychologist.

Shallenberger opted to attend UE because, as a National Merit Finalist, he received a full-tuition scholarship to the university. This means that out of the 1.6 million students who take the PSAT each year, Shallenberger was one of only 15,000 in the top percentile to be named a National Merit Finalist.

In addition to baseball and school, Shallenberger is a proud Guitar Hero player and an avid football fan. He also enjoys cooking and watching Jeopardy in his free time.

Next up is Las Vegas native, Reese Simmons. She plays soccer for the Purple Aces, but that’s not all!


Coming from the bustling city, she chose UE for a change of pace and to gain a new experience far from home. Simmons also chose Evansville for the business program.


She is currently in her junior year pursuing her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management in hopes of becoming a CEO, business manager, or a coach in the future.


Moving to Evansville came with challenges for Simmons though. Coming in her freshman year, she suffered a knee injury that would leave her without soccer for ten months. Moving to an entirely new place, being injured along with starting entirely new classes proved to be very challenging for Simmons, but she credits that year for making her mentally tough and teaching her things she never would have learned without it.


“It taught me how far positivity can get you,” said Simmons, “being negative gets you nowhere.”


Another aspect of being injured that Simmons took advantage of was developing new hobbies. During that time, she took up reading and spent time outside.


Now, Reese has made a complete recovery and has continued to start for the UE soccer team, helping to pave the way to victory for the Purple Aces. 


All the way from Minnesota is Track and Cross Country runner Adam Oulgout. Being more than 10 hours away from home was not only for his sport though; the unique opportunities that the University of Evansville offers for Pre-Physical Therapy students also drew Oulgout to attend.


Because of the prestigiousness of the Pre-PT program, Oulgout is currently completing an internship in addition to practicing just about every day and completing other classes.


Oulgout has been on the Cross Country and Track teams for 2 – going on 3 – years now, he runs mid-distance, but he has accomplished much more.


Oulgout is fluent in 3 languages and prides himself on his ability to play the saxophone, as well as being an active golfer. Friends described him as, “loyal, hilarious, and always down for a good time.”


In his time at UE, he has learned to separate his personal life from his sport. He believes this is essential to success. While so much pressure is placed in sport, it’s not beneficial to carry the stress over into personal time. This being said, Oulgout builds time for self-care into his typical daily schedule.

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