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Legendary Wakefield coach remembered

December 27, 2011 - Burt Angeli
Roman Yatchak, a do-it-all coach at Wakefield High School, died this month at the age of 96.

Yatchak, inducted to the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame in 1984, coached every sport at Wakefield for 16 years.

His football teams won 90 games and the 1960 U.P. title; basketball squads tallied three districts and one regional, and the thinclads chalked up 35 meet championships. He also found time to coach baseball.

“I have heard many coaches and former coaches talk about his teams that he had in Wakefield,” said Norway High School football coach Brad Grayvold, who grew up in Wakefield. “From what I've heard he was a coach that demanded discipline and respect and was very "motivating."

Yatchak’s football teams, who lost 24 games with those 90 wins, registered seven conference crowns and five runners-up in 16 years.

“That’s pretty good considering the competition they had in the conference at that time,” said Grayvold, noting Yatchak left Wakefield to start the initial football program at Lansing Waverly High School. “It was said that he inspired many of his players to become coaches themselves.

“My father-in-law was in high school at the time when Coach Yatchak was there. He said he distinctly remembers him telling his players, ‘If I am not yelling at you in practice, then you have a problem.’ I guess that meant that he was very aware of all of his players and their abilities and was continually trying to get them to play to their potential.”

Ironwood Daily Globe story on Yatchak closed with an amazing bit of information. The 96-year-old died in the “house his father had built in the same bed bedroom he was born in.”



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