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Will Yager is justifiably proud of his accomplishments in four years at Carroll County High School. Will represented his school and community capably in golf, contributed to a successful baseball program with his performances on the mound and had a stellar basketball career for the Panthers. The senior News-Democrat Student Athlete of the Year, sponsored by Earl Floyd Ford, will have the opportunity to take his game to the next level this fall after signing to play basketball at Thomas More College.
The athletic achievements tell only a small part of the young man’s story, however. He is a well-rounded student who has done well in the classroom and in extracurricular activities both at school and in the community.
“Will is the type of player that every coach would like to have an opportunity to coach,” Panther Head Basketball Coach Carroll Yager said in nominating his son for the award. “Will is very coachable and will do anything you ask him to do to the best of his ability.”
“Ever since I have been a young child, my parents have been hard working and have showed me that if you put in the effort you’ll get the results that you want,” the younger Yager said in an interview.
That work ethic has served him well. The discipline learned in athletics was also applied in the classroom to enhance his academic performance.
“I’ve taken that into basketball, working hard in the off-season and during the season, doing everything I can to improve myself as a player,” Will said. “I did bring that to the classroom as well. I’ve got that mindset that I’ve got to put in the 100 percent effort to get the results that I want and be satisfied in myself.”
“He spent countless hours on his own working to improve his skills,” Carroll Yager said.
On Sunday, Will graduated fourth in his class, achieving a 4.065 grade point average for his high school career. It is a remarkable accomplishment given his participation in three sports and numerous volunteer opportunities outside the classroom.
He served as Student Body vice president, National Honor Society treasurer, and as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Pep Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions (serving as parliamentarian), Panther Kick-Off Mentor to incoming freshmen, the school Video Production Crew and Act 22+ Club.
Active in the community, Will volunteered as a Little League baseball umpire, a counselor at CCHS basketball and baseball camps for younger students, the Worthville Baptist Church Trick or Trunk and raking leaves for senior citizens.
Other school-related activities in the community included the National Honor Society’s Operation Shoebox, NHS Bake Sale, a Peer Tutor at Carroll County Middle School and as a volunteer in the Kathryn Winn Primary Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash.
“In NHS we’re required to do community service activities,” he explained. “I’ve been involved in Operation Christmas Child which is filling up shoe boxes and sending them overseas to countries that are experiencing hardships. I’ve just enjoyed getting to be in all the organizations and being part of everything they do.”
During the second semester of his junior year and the first half of the senior year Will and classmate Angela Woods were the Teen Council Representatives serving on the Carrollton City Council.
That experience has Yager keeping himself open to the possibility of future involvement in local government.
“It’s possible,” he said. “I’d like to play a significant role in the community. I enjoyed sitting in on the meetings.”
He is looking at a number of career options, he said. Citing his father’s success in teaching, coaching and school administration, the younger Yager says he is tempted to follow a similar game plan.
“I’ve thrown that option around,” he said, “getting into teaching and coaching. Maybe teaching and working my way up into administration in pretty much the same way as he has. Then I’ve also thought about accounting. I’ve done some research and that looks like a field I would be interested in. I’m not set on a major yet but those are some things I’m looking at.”
Although the basketball court has been where his greatest individual success has occurred, Will looks back on his participation in golf and baseball as enjoyable experiences.
“Golf is just something that I have fun with,” he said. “I do my best but I don’t expect much from it. Baseball, I’ve enjoyed playing that this season. We’ve had a successful year and that’s been a lot of fun. The baseball group we’ve been together since we were about seven years old. I have a lot of good friendships there.”
In basketball, Will was honored with the Carrollton Federal Bank 3 Point Award and the Iron Panther Award following his sophomore season. He received the same awards during his junior and senior seasons as well. Also during his junior year he was honored as the Panthers’ Leading Scorer, Most 3 Point Goals and Most Deflections. In his senior year he was a Team co-Captain, Most Outstanding Player, Leading Scorer, Most 3 Point Goals, Best 3 Point Field Goal Percentage and Most 2 Point Field Goals.
Among other athletic and academic achievements during his high school career were the following: Academic All-State Team, Wendy’s Heisman School Winner, 2010 31st District Basketball All Tournament Team, 2009 and 2010 North Central Kentucky Kentucky Basketball All Conference Team, 2009 Coaches All Eighth Region Basketball Team, 2008 Campbellsville Classic All Tournament Team, 2008 Gallatin Steel All Tournament Team, 2008 Class A Eighth Region All Tournament Team and the 2007 Powell County Invitational All Tournament Team.
Will joined the 1,000 Point Club during his senior season, ending his high school career with 1,052 points.
He was the NCKC Conference Player of the Week three times in his career, and the only player in the conference to be so named twice during this past season.
How does one successfully juggle so many studies, sports and other activities and be successful in all areas? Will offered the following advice to younger, aspiring student/athletes:
“You’ve got to manage your time,” he said. “You’ve got to have your priorities and understand that when you get older – the majority of people that are good at sports end up not even playing professionally. You’ve got to have something to fall back on and that’s where your academics come into play. You’ve got to be planning for your future.”
“Will is a role model for our young players,” his father said. “He maintained a positive attitude in good times and times of adversity. His efforts both in the classroom and in basketball have put him in a position to continue his education and basketball at the next level.”
“I’m really proud,” Will said, “that I’m going to end up graduating with over a 4.0 grade point average, and being able to do that with being part of everything that I’m part of, and also being able to have a chance to play college basketball because that’s a goal that I’ve worked very hard at to achieve. Having both of those together—not just one or not just the other—that’s what I’m really proud of.”