Four Lakota students reflect on their high school athletic careers

High school athletics are at their finest in Lakota Local Schools. Whether on the course, field or court, these four Lakota athletes excel. Here are their stories, in their own words.

Alyssa Triner

Lakota West Softball

First Team All Conference GMC softball player Alyssa Triner is one tough competitor. No obstacle, not even back fractures sustained during her freshman year, slows her down. Triner and her team are motivated for a win at state finals after a heartbreaking loss last year.

Q: What’s a favorite highlight from last season?

At the first Mason game last year, it was tied, 3-3, when I hit a homerun in the last inning. We held them and we won. It was a big moment.

Q: What do you look forward to this season?

This year, we know what’s expected of us. We know the standards we have to reach in order to get to state again. I’m really excited. I think we’re going to do it again.

Q: How has playing softball shaped you?

In softball, we have a three-second rule; when you come in from a bad bat or a bad play, you have three seconds to calm yourself down, regroup and get back out there. That sticks with me. I’ll always use that. Coach Castner and my teammates have pushed me and been there for me. They’ve really made me into a tough competitor.

From the Coach

“Alyssa is a hard-working young lady on and off the field. She has developed into one of our leaders for our Lakota West Softball family. Alyssa is a very goal-oriented student-athlete. She sets her sights high and then works extremely hard to accomplish those objectives. Alyssa handles each hurdle with a great deal of maturity.”

– Coach Keith Castner

 

Bree Wilson

Lakota East Golf

Golf standout Bree Wilson lights up when she talks about the sport, reliving shots like she is actually on the green. Wilson approaches golf as she does life—with bubbly energy, a focus on family and friends, and with a team spirit.

Q: When did you start playing golf?

I’ve been around golf my whole life. My dad introduced me to golf, but I never really enjoyed it until I started playing competitively on the eighth-grade team at Plains Junior. All of our family plays. My family is everything to me.

Q: What is an unforgettable moment from last season?

I won the GMC title this year for our conference—it was really neat. At the last hole, I made a three-foot slider for the win.

Q: What’s next?

I have committed to play golf and study at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. I want to major in molecular biology and biochemistry and eventually go on to medical school—I’m thinking something in the pediatric surgery field. They are ranked fourth in the country for Division III golf so it will be fun to compete at the national level.

From the Coach

“Bree was easy to coach because of her strong work ethic. She is a very pleasant kid to be around and work with.”

– Coach Ali Green

 

Evan Yablonsky

Lakota East Football

East senior Evan Yablonsky led the Thunderhawks to football play-offs. Nicknamed “the Hungarian army knife,” he was recognized as a versatile team player. On both the football field and in life, Yablonsky serves as a grateful leader.

Q: When did you start playing football?

I grew up through Tomahawks, the Lakota youth football organization, from first through sixth grade. Then, I played at Liberty Junior and East.

Q: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a coach?

Coach Haynes does a great job sculpting people to be leaders. He taught me how to be both physically and mentally tough. That’s gotten me through a ton of hard times.

Q: What is an unforgettable moment from last season?

Our first play-off game was against Mason, who is East’s big rival since I started playing in first grade. Pulling out a victory there was so sweet. Twelve years of hard work paid off in that one game. I wouldn’t have traded that for anything.

Q: What’s next?

I’m not playing football. I plan to go to school to be an engineer or a music teacher to teach jazz band. Those are the two things I’m passionate about in school.

From the Coach

“All of his teammates would tell you he’s a great teammate. Evan would do whatever we needed him to do to help the team. That’s how we started calling him the ‘Hungarian army knife.’ Evan was a very, very valuable player for our team.”

– Coach Richard Haynes

 

Matt DeSalvo

Lakota West Basketball

Matt DeSalvo’s varsity basketball career started across town at East. After sitting out last season due to a transfer rule, he is ready to bounce back as a West senior. DeSalvo’s positive attitude and leadership skills make him a valuable player for the Firebirds.

Q: What do you love about basketball?

My favorite thing is definitely bringing my team together. They have to really appreciate and show up for their teammates if they want to be good. I try to bring my best energy and attitude every day.

Q: What’s your advice for beginning players?

If you want to be an important player on a team, figure out how you can be even better at what you’re already good at. Not everybody can shoot, not everyone can pass, but focus on what you are good at and try to make it better every day.

Q: What can we look forward to this season?

It’s going to be more than exciting! I’m just putting it out there: we are going to be a different team this year. Led by the coaching staff, we’re going to win, game by game. Everything I’ve got is going to be put into this season.

From the Coach

“It has been an honor to get to know Matt on and off the court. He showed great maturity in dealing with a tough situation last season and is ready to lead our program back to success and the respect we deserve. His work ethic is contagious!”

– Coach Jim Leon

 

Find Lakota sport schedules at: EastHigh.LakotaOnline.com/Activities/Athletics or WestHigh.LakotaOnline.com/Activities/Athletics.