To discuss on-field accomplishments without mentioning the off-field journey would be missing the bigger picture of how former Durango High School softball player Vivienne Yeagy got to this point, where, surrounded by family and coaches representing her past and her future, she committed to play at Fort Lewis College in the spring.
The accomplishments she accrued between the lines were what got Yeagy noticed by then-FLC coach Pam Adams and started the ball rolling. The infielder-turned-catcher led the Demons in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage in helping DHS to its strongest season in recent memory in 2009.
But how she even came to Durango in the first place explains more clearly why being the first DHS player to the best of coach John Bernazzanis recollection to play in college means so much to the DHS alum.
Yeagy originally is from Indianapolis, the third of Susan Yeagys five daughters. Before moving to Durango, Vivienne Yeagy spent her first two years of high school at North Central High School, a school of more than 3,000 students, where she claimed a spot on the varsity softball team each season. Unfortunately, while the softball skills were evident, the personal discipline shes come to possess wasnt, and her behavior got to the point where a change was inevitable.
I wasnt making the best decisions, and moving out here was a way to help me, she said, her voice cracking with emotion. They (her aunt and uncle) were going to help me, and they have. I know Im a lot stronger now. I dont think if I hadnt came out here, I wouldnt be where I am today.
Her aunt and uncle, Carrie and Tom Dragt, and their son, Stafford, offered to take in Yeagy across the country in Durango. Carrie Dragt said that for Yeagy, hearing the same wisdom her mother had tried to impart, only this time from a different voice and perspective, helped the message sink in. The trio was able to provide stability, and Tom Dragt supplied a strong male figure Yeagy lacked in Indiana.
More stability and a strong male figure appears to have done wonders for the Skyhawk-to-be, even earning her the Most Distinguished Athlete award, voted on by coaches from every DHS sport and awarded to the male and female athletes that exemplify a series of strong personal qualities as well as athletic skills. Yeagys family couldnt be prouder.
Its great, Tom Dragt said. Were really proud of her.
And as she better organized her personal life, Yeagys softball skills continued to grow. Originally an infielder, Bernazzani asked Yeagy to move to catcher as a senior, a position she hadnt played since she was eight years old. She took to the role, helping change the perception that the Demons were a team to be run on.
It was a necessary sacrifice, and one that Bernazzani said showed her devotion to the team.
She was very unselfish, and she gave to the team, he said.
Her skills caught the attention of Adams last fall. Yeagy noticed the long-time FLC coach at many of her games and decided to introduce herself. The meeting led to Yeagy participating in an open tryout for Fort Lewis, one in which she flourished at multiple defensive positions and at the plate. Adams interest in the DHS co-captain was enough to warrant an offer to play at FLC in 2010.
But when Adams resigned in June to take an administrative position at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Yeagys status was all of a sudden in limbo. She had no idea who the next coach would be, much less if that coach would want her on the roster, causing Yeagy to freak out as Tom Dragt put it.
I kind of lost hope, Yeagy said, tears welling in her eyes.
Once the hire of Kira Zeiter was announced Aug. 3, Yeagy decided she needed to take the initiative, setting up a meeting with Zeiter to explain the understanding she had with Adams in the hopes that Zeiter would keep her around.
The meeting paid off. Despite never having seen Yeagy play, her drive to play college softball, as evidenced by the meeting, helped convince Zeiter to hang on to her. Bernazzani, himself a former FLC assistant, also put in a good word for his former charge, playing the team player angle in the wake of her position change.
I think its great when they take the initiative to come up and talk to me, Zeiter said. Its nice for them to come up that way. (I can) get a feel for her personality ... and of course I talked to Coach John (Bernazzani) about her.
Upon finding she still had an opportunity to play, a weight was lifted off Yeagys shoulders.
It was a huge relief, because I wanted to play, she said, the tears returning. I always wanted to, and now I can.
As for Yeagys Durango family, itll be nice to have her around for a few more years, even if it means they have to cook a few extra meals or do a few extra loads of laundry. Not that anybodys complaining.
Im sure well see her every weekend, because Toms a cook extraordinaire, Carrie Dragt said.