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WOW talks with Dawna Royster, Mom to Redskins rookie Evan Royster, about gamedays, local hangouts and more!

01.25.2012 / Blog Posts Redskins WOW Interview Series

From the practice squad to NFL starter in just a few weeks, Evan Royster proved his value to the Redskins running game this season. Due to a season-ending injury to Tim Hightower and ineffectiveness by Ryan Torain, Royster stepped into the starting lineup the last two weeks of the season when Roy Helu, another rookie running back, was slowed by knee and toe injuries. He rushed for 100 yards in both games, finished with 328 yards for the season, and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

WOW sat down with Dawna Royster, mom to the Redskins rookie running back, to talk about raising four boys (yikes!), seeing Evan play for the first time in the NFL, reveals her favorite local hangouts and more!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My family and I are originally from Hawaii, although I grew up in San Francisco. I met my husband, Ted, at my summer job while attending the University of San Francisco. We married and had 4 sons -- Evan is our baby! I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with our boys, although Ted's job caused us to move many times to different parts of the country. When all the boys were in school and didn't need me at home much anymore, I went back to school to earn my Masters' Degree in Special Education at George Mason University. I've worked as a Learning Disabilities Teacher for 15 years now; currently I teach Geometry at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia, the same high school that Evan attended!

Do you have any gameday rituals or a favorite gameday memory?

On gameday, Ted and I are proud to don Evan's jersey! We don't really have any superstitions, but I do pray a lot of Hail Mary's as the game gets going. My nerves are at their worst just before the game begins, then I settle in and get into the game. I love to cheer for our team!

My favorite football memory is the night Evan broke the all-time rushing record at Penn State. We rented a large house that weekend and invited all our family and several close friends. We had actually booked the house before the season began – we didn't know at the time that this would be the weekend Evan broke the record! We tailgated all day and then went to watch Penn State take on Michigan. Evan had an awesome game and I was the proud mama!

Evan just finished his rookie season in the NFL – what has the experience been like?

This year has been incredible. Since Evan started the season on the practice squad, we've had to be patient. Actually, I think it was good for him because it made him hungry. When he finally got his chance to get on the field, he had something to prove and he did it! Evan is living his dream. I am so proud of him because he has worked toward this every day of his life. He has a lot of natural talent but he's had to work very hard to realize his dreams. Back when Evan was a Senior in high school, I submitted this advice in his yearbook: "Remember that your talents are gifts from God. What you do with them is what you offer back to Him."

What is it like watching Evan play in his hometown this season?

I can't tell you how excited we were to watch Evan run onto the field in pre-season! I said to myself, "This is it; this is what we've been dreaming of!" My husband and I have attended every game Evan has played in since he was a little boy -- the only exception was the Redskins/Seattle Seahawks game. Evan was activated to the roster only a few days before and we couldn't muster up the tickets with such short notice right in the middle of Thanksgiving! When Evan played in college we were welcomed into the Penn State family; it is feeling very much the same now with the Redskins. I am always amazed at the wonderful fans who support their team so passionately. It is a privilege and a thrill to be a part of the Redskins family! Evan has told me, too, how much he loves and respects his teammates, who are fast becoming his life-long friends, no matter how divergent their future paths may be.

The Royster Clan

Do you like to cook? Any favorite recipes?

I USED to love to cook, when my boys were younger. Now that they're grown and out of the house, Ted and I eat out way too often -- our expanding waistlines attest to this! My boys were big eaters growing up, so I would always cook for an army. We ate lots of pastas and comfort foods. The boys used to love meatloaf and mashed potatoes, beef stroganoff, my special lasagna. The one food that Evan always asks me to make is (don't laugh) -- rice krispies treats! He is so easy to please!

Do you support any charities?

I attended Catholic schools my whole life, so we support the various Catholic charities that I've grown up with. As an educator I was pleased to see Laura Bush champion literacy in the U.S.; all children need to hone their reading skills. Not only will reading enable kids to seek their dreams, it can enrich their lives immeasurably.

As a local, where are your favorite places to go in the area?

I love to shop! My girlfriends and I often meet at Tyson's Corner for dinner and cruising the mall together. I love, love, love the lobster roll at Coastal Flats. Sometimes on Saturday mornings Ted and I will take in a movie at Tyson's, then have lunch in the food court. If he wants to see a movie that I can't get into (i.e. a science fiction flick), I send him to the movies while I shop!

One of my favorite restaurants is the China Garden in Rosslyn. My mother was Chinese and I am reminded of her when the boys treat me to a dim sum brunch, usually for Mother's Day or my birthday. Everyone really needs to experience dining on dim sum and this restaurant is fabulous!

We are extremely fortunate to be living here so close to the nation's capital. I always enjoy venturing into D.C. to see the sights but I must admit we don't do it very often. This is one reason why I love it when friends and family come to visit -- it gives ME the opportunity to sight see!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Besides Evan and football, what makes me happiest in my life right now are my grandchildren! I have two grandsons, Kenny and Nick, ages 3 and 1-1/2, and they have another little brother or sister on the way. I love hugging and kissing them, and spoiling them with anything they want. It is hilarious to watch my oldest son, their daddy, try to cajole, tease, or reason with them. They answer him in much the same way he did with me, thirty years ago. What goes around comes around!

Now that my children are grown and independent, Ted and I have been forced to refocus our lives. We found ourselves living in a massive house all by ourselves and we craved the simpler life. So three years ago, we sold the family home and moved into a small, 3-bedroom condo overlooking the Occoquan River. Scaling down our responsibilities and our material goods has given us the freedom to come and go as we please. My dream is to travel and see as much of the world as we can. First on my list is Italy: the Vatican, Florence, gondolas and the Sistine Chapel. Maybe one day....

Anything else you want to share with readers?

What I've learned in life is that attitude is everything. Many times in our past Ted came home and announced that his job was moving him again. I remember being angry and telling him that I hated him and I especially hated his job. We moved to several different parts of the country, but instead of dreading it, we went in with an attitude that it would be a new adventure with new opportunities to meet people. With a positive attitude, we made friends wherever we went and found that we could be happy anywhere as a family, as long as we had each other. Now we have friends all over the country and my boys have learned to adapt easily and make their own happiness, wherever they are.

My favorite quote is by Mary Lou Cook- "Seek not outside yourself; heaven is within."

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