When I think of Dr. Yerry, my mind is flooded with many images. I see Doc on the sidelines intently watching his son Adam performing in games; I see him smiling at our practices; encouraging other athletes; treating other athletes and giving medical advice to families; I see him giving guidance to parents. I see his intensity showing on his face, his hands on his hips and know that in his mind he is out on that court helping every kid succeed. I see him after his son’s teams loss, putting his arm around a dejected player…….and not just his own kid. I see him and he is laughing, always smiling.
I see these things when I think of Dr. Yerry, but I see even more.
I see him helping athletes when they are down or in trouble. I see him standing up for principles that he believed in, even if not popular. I see him talking with our coaches, encouraging them, and thanking them for spending so much time with his kid and others. I see him speaking quietly to Adam, helping him to overcome adversity on and off the court. I see and feel the deep concern that he felt for each and every player, and their families. I see him in quiet times, away from the practice floor or game site, still giving of himself, happy and content to be of service. You see, Dr. Yerry was not only our unofficial team doctor, he was much more.
Yes, I see these things when I think of Doc Yerry, and I smile. I remember his vitality and his ready wit that could change the gloomiest of days into one filled with happiness and laughter; and all at once, he is back in our presence. I remember his commitment to sportsmanship and honor; to family and friends, to his patients and colleagues; which, to Doc, were not words, but the building blocks of his life. I remember this and I am proud to have known such a man.
Then I realize that Dr. Yerry is no longer with us, that he only exists in my memory. However, that’s not really true. The Doc is still alive. When I attended his memorial service almost two years ago, I saw his son Adam, his daughters Sara and Eliza, his wife Donna, and many of the athletes that I coached back then. They all carry with them the glow that the Doc had. His influence and impact on them and others was tremendous and they now carry his spirit in their own lives.
Today, I see him in many of my own actions when I do something that was inspired by his example; his concern; his courage. I see him in all of the current athletes and their parents that are in our program, who carry on his dedication, commitment and involvement. I see him in all of us, even in those who did not know him. For our current and former coaches that did know him, I see the Doc in all of us who have had our lives changed forever and for the better because we knew this outstanding example of humanity at its best. I see him, and I know that he continues to live.
Dr. Yerry lived a life of service and of giving in so many ways that it makes it impossible to remember them all. Although he is not here physically, I can, we all can, give something to him. Whether you knew Dr. Roger Yerry or not, we can all give. That gift can be a promise and pledge to bring his inspiration and spirit into our hearts, into our minds, and into our actions.
As he fought, we can fight for what is right, decent, and best for all of our kids. We can be honest with our kids, with our athletes and not place unrealistic expectations on them. We can ensure that our athletes stay focused on what is important, that what they do as people is more important than what they achieve on the athletic field. We can maintain the highest integrity, loyalty, and honor to all that surround us, to all who we touch. We can do what is right; we can do the right thing. As he worked to be the best person he could be, we can strive to do the same. For me, Dr Yerry left an outstanding model on which we can shape our lives.
If we can do these things, then we cannot help but to nurture the learning and growth of all those we touch throughout our lives; we cannot help but make the world better or at least our own communities a better place for ourselves.