For Derek Yvon, one of the greatest basketball players in Springfield College history, the ending to his storybook career for the Pride is finally here.
On Saturday, April 9th, Yvon will be inducted into the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Growing up in the city of Springfield, going to [Cathedral] high school right down the road, and being able to play at the birthplace of basketball all makes this pretty special,” Yvon said.
Yvon grew up surrounded by athletic success, with his family regarded as the first family of Springfield sports. His older brother, Matt was an outstanding football and basketball player at Westfield State.
Yvon’s name is found often in the birthplace of basketball’s record books, as he is in the top 10 or better in 23 single season or career categories, including points scored (2,101), three-pointers made (261), and minutes played (3,424).
His dominate numbers were recognized by the conference as well, as he earned the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year during the 2002-2003 season, and won NEWMAC First Team All-Conference honors in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
One of the reasons why Yvon decided to attend Springfield College was for the unique opportunity to play two sports at the collegiate level. While basketball was Yvon’s self-described “first love,” he also played for Mark Simeone on the baseball team, and excelled on the diamond too, being named to the NEWMAC First Team All-Conference after batting .360 during his junior season.
Yvon admitted that early on in his first semester of freshman year, he struggled because he was trying to play fall baseball and make an immediate impact for Coach Charlie Brock and the basketball team.
“I wanted to play fall baseball which meant limited time with the basketball team and I got behind, [basketball] shape-wise,” Yvon said. “Our first scrimmage versus Westfield State, I didn’t get much playing time. That’s when I realized I better earn my spot.”
He wasn’t one to shy away from a challenge, even one as daunting as being a major contributor as a first-year player.
“I had to earn it and that was totally fine. I love to compete and I’ve done that my whole life.”
While Yvon’s main goal every season for the Pride was to win a conference championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament, his many All-Conference Honors were definitely appreciated
“Looking back, I always wanted to do well with my team but it was nice to be recognized.”
Since graduating Springfield College, Yvon’s athletic achievements have not stopped. In both 2014 and 2015, he won the local qualifier for the Massachusetts Amateur Golf Championship.
“I played golf in high school and was the state champ,” Yvon said, admitting that while he got away from the sport in college, these days, the course is where you’ll find him. “I try to be on the golf course as much I can, the body recovers better from golf.”
As the Business Development Manager of Essilor of America, a leader in the optical industry, Yvon uses the lessons he learned from being an athlete at Springfield College, to help him in his career.
“Being part of a team, building friendships and relationships. I try to help others, guide others, train others, and make them feel a part of the team. We go out there and compete together.”
Yvon recognizes how special the honor of being inducted in the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame is, and he wants this moment to be shared with everyone.
“I’m honored and privileged to be inducted. So many great athletes have come through before me. I was fortunate enough to play for good coaches and without those guys, I wouldn’t be receiving this award.”
A story that can only be described as “straight out of a movie” is coming to a close. The local high school star athlete, who then dominated two sports at the local college, now is being honored with the ultimate award. While Yvon’s playing days are behind him, his relationships will last a lifetime.
“I have a lot of friends coming back to support [the induction]. The friendships I built [at Springfield College] are unbelievable.”