Yosemite High School closed out the 2016-17 year with its typical share of varsity North Sequoia League Championships - seven.
This past school year will be remembered as an emotional time and a transition period of successful coaches who are giving up their head coaching duties. Overall, there are five head and assistant coaches who will move on.
The varsity boy’s basketball program had another solid season, finishing tied for second in the North Sequoia League and making the CIF D-IV playoffs for the second straight season. The program is set for long term success after years of mediocrity, although the team had to weather a few storms this season.
During the season at the critical road game against Kerman, Yosemite’s Cannon Eames was ejected and served a two-game suspension. Later, point guard Tristan Eames went down with a season-ending knee injury. Bad luck as YHS was certainly talented enough to win a league title, something that hasn’t happened since the 1998-99 season.
Just before the team’s playoff game at Madera South, Head Coach Aaron Eames abruptly resigned. While I will never agree with the timing of Eames’s decision I will always respect his coaching ability.
Eames’s assistants, Andy Medley, Charlie Medley, and Erik Peterson will lead next year’s team. The Medleys led the YHS JV program to a dominating season and an NSL title. Next year’s group will be solid and perhaps the varsity team can end the 18-year title drought.
YHS boys tennis won its third consecutive NSL title and narrowly missed winning their first D-IV Central Section title, losing to Dinuba 5-4. Coach Eames has won league titles in three different sports in his long tenure at Yosemite High, a rare feat for sure.
The Lady Badgers basketball team won another varsity title (co-champions with Kerman), and with the team’s four leading scores returning as juniors, they will be favored to win the NSL next season.
We are so spoiled in Oakhurst with the success of this program. To me they are the New England Patriots of YHS. What Gary Blate has done continues to amaze - he captured his 500th basketball coaching career win this season on Jan. 13, with a 48-22 win over Sierra. Those wins have come from 15 years with the Lady Badgers, four years as the boys coach and 12 years as girls varsity coach at Loara High in Anaheim.
He has 12 shared or outright league titles, four section titles, and is not only one of the greatest coaches ever at YHS, but also in the Central Section.
The basketball season started out with the tragic death of basketball and track athlete Shania Costella, but Shania lived on in spirit, as two YHS teams dedicated their seasons to her - the JV boys basketball squad and girls track & field team. Both were league champions.
The Yosemite High track program was also victorious but will also see a coaching transition. The YHS girls won their third straight title and the 17th overall for 20-year Head Coach Walker Vaughn, who has decided to move on.
Vaughn and wife Kellie will continue with the program as assistants. The decision will allow Walker and Kellie to spend more time with family but as long as the Vaughns are still involved in the program, the track team shouldn’t miss a beat.
Cari Rumohr will take over as head coach, as announced at the season-end track banquet. Assistant coach and head cross country coach Sonja Mazaira will also be leaving her coaching duties as she and her husband Rick, and children, will be moving out of state.
Mazaira has played a critical role in the success of the track program in the last few years. Last season she coached cross country taking over for legendary cross country coach Ellen Peterson. Sonja’s husband Rick has coached in the YHS football program in the past and both are pillars of the Mountain Area. They will be missed.
Yosemite boys golf continues to roll on as Coach Reg Turner’s squad won it’s sixth consecutive title and team leader, senior Spencer Uzzell, was the NSL MVP for the third straight time.
The girls team, coached by Rusty Oetinger, won its 12th consecutive league golf title this year, and junior Claire Oetinger was crowned the NSL MVP for the second time.
The YHS volleyball team (33-5, 9-1 NSL), another team with just one senior, were champions and advanced to the semifinal round of the CIF Central Section D-III playoffs. The team’s win-loss record over the past two seasons is an impressive 63-16. The team advanced to the semifinal round of the Central Section D-III playoffs the past two seasons.
Head Coach Michele Chenowith now has six outright or shared NSL championships, and three CIF Central Section D-III titles (1997, 2000 and 2001).
Coach Brandon Brokaw’s boys swimming team won its 12th straight title, and the girls were co-champs with Kerman this season.
You can add Brokaw to the list of all-time great coaches at YHS. It is bittersweet as Brokaw, a highly respected coach around the NSL and beyond, announced he is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, Rebecca, and two children, Benny, 8, and Allie, 6.
Brokaw has won a total of 22 (12 boys and 10 girls) swim titles for Yosemite in 12 years since taking over the program in 2006.
He also coached boys and girls water polo for 12 years (9 years girls - three years boys), winning two league titles with the boys and one with the girls. Those titles, combined with swimming, gives Brokaw a total of 25 league championships.
Brokaw said he was fortunate to have a successful coaching career at Yosemite “because of the incredible athletes that I had. I’m especially grateful for all the memories and lasting relationships that I’ve made over all those years.”
His assistant swim coach, Brenna Neely, is also stepping down.
Brokaw will continue to teach at Campbell Day School, an alternative school to YHS.