• Harrison Wilmot

Jeff Yamashita is the ‘GOAT’

Everyone who knows him loves him. “He has such an impact on us so we want to be around him and share moments with him,” says three-sport varsity starter Trent Toole. “One thing that stands out to me about Coach Yamashita is that it doesn’t even have to be about sports or injuries. You can walk by his office and he has a smile on his face and he’ll talk to you about anything.”

Jeff Yamashita, an athletic trainer and teacher, joined Stevenson in 2013. Over the last nine years, he’s served as the school’s trainer and has taught Sports Medicine, a popular elective science course. Yamashita’s wholehearted dedication to his craft earned him this year’s Don L. Dormer Coach’s Award.

Justin Clymo, who traces his history with Yamashita all the way back to when he was in high school, expresses the approach his committee took to choosing Yamashita as the winner of this award: “As we discussed the nominations, it became very clear that this was a long time coming once we started looking at the criteria and who was eligible [for the award]. Especially after not having it for two years and given the work that he did over the pandemic, there was not a better candidate.” Clymo concludes, “At that point, it was a no-brainer.”

Clymo reveals the relationship he’s built with Yamashita: “We spend so much time together, that he’s like a family member.” He continues, “I got to watch first-hand the impact he has on others.”

Junior Emily Amador has developed a special connection with Yamashita by playing on his JV softball team: “He’s really good about being there when you need it. Always asking everyone how they are, aside from school and sports, just what’s going on in your personal life.”

Recent graduate Kira Seggerty provided an observation about Yamashita that Clymo used during the announcement of the award winner. She has been a frequent visitor to Yamashita’s office, not just because of injuries but because he’s a source of support. “It was actually kinda funny. They read the teacher’s quote and then they read mine and I was happy for him winning the award and I didn’t even realize it was my quote.”

Seggerty, a dedicated volleyball player, explains Yamashita’s infectious enthusiasm: “I admire how positive he is, especially when it comes to injuries. Being injured can be a form of anxiety for a lot of people…and he is very reassuring and calm with his practice. He makes sure to create a connection with the student [athlete] and their injury, every single time.”

Abby Yamashita, Yamashita’s daughter, voices how much he means in her life: “At school it’s been super easy because it’s almost like I’ve made more friends because of him and he truly just cares for us so much.” She learned life lessons from him too: “He’s constantly teaching me new things: cooking, analyzing, softball — and driving.”

Yamashita had no clue the award would find its way into his hands: “It was a complete and total surprise. I felt very honored, very humble…it was a great feeling.” He adds on, claiming he takes pride in oozing positivity across campus: “Stevenson seemed like an unobtainable place for you to bring your kids. And once I got here, figuring out it was obtainable — what I promote to my friends who think the same thing is that you gotta come in here and you gotta really experience this school…that’s what’s most memorable for me. It’s meeting student-athletes, meeting the community, how close the community is. What I do (taking care of the athletes) is just one part of the entire community.”

He feels Abby and his other daughter Ellie, now an alum, have made this place truly feel like a home: “Being able to meet other kids through my kids…in the winter I become a theater dad. I go to all the choir concerts. Those things are awesome because I may not dip my toe into those opportunities if I don’t have my kids on campus.”

Yamashita has been a vital contributor to our community. Now, the ones most touched by his compassion share words that best describe his outgoing nature:

Justin Clymo: “Unselfish and giving beyond measurability,” “Always positive; I’ve only seen the guy mad twice in 13 years.”

Trent Toole: “Goat,” “Caring,” “Positive,” “Dedicated,” “Supportive,” “Mentor.”

Emily Amador: “Impactful,” “Memorable.”

Abby Yamashita: “Knowledgeable,” “Understanding,” “Incredible. Your parents in your eyes are the best people you could ever meet and I think my dad truly lives up to that standard in all of the things he puts himself into.”

Kira Seggerty: “Happy. I’ve never really seen him in a point of distress. I’ve never seen him anxious about anything. I feel like the calm and happy energy he exudes is admirable to everyone on campus.”

Cole Leon: “Empathetic. He’s very empathetic. He puts himself in your shoes which makes you feel super comfortable and warm inside. You feel in a safe place whenever you’re injured and he’s trying to push you through it.”


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