By Rob Potter
LIBERTY October 13, 2006 Kate Yaun has been back at SUNY Cortland for several weeks now, but she is probably still thinking about the incredible experience she enjoyed during the recent summer break.
The 21-year-old Yaun, a 2003 Liberty Central School graduate and current SUNY Cortland senior, was a member of a USA Softball team that competed in the Blacktown Invitational tournament back in June in Australia.
Yaun noted that after she and her teammates flew from New York City to California, they had a six-hour layover before boarding their flight to Australia. That trip took about 12 hours, so with all of that travel and the several-hour time difference between Australia and the U.S., the team members had to deal with some jet lag.
But they recovered quickly, and got ready to play softball.
Yaun and several other players from college programs in the northeast, including C.W. Post, Delaware Valley (Pa.) College and Long Island University, formed the USA Blue team. The squad was coached by husband and wife Dante Fedeli and Kate Whalen, who are the softball coaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham, a NCAA Division III school in Madison, NJ.
There was also a USA Red team playing in Australia at the same time.
The Blue team went a perfect 6-0 in the tournament and captured the gold medal. In the championship game against Manly, Yaun went 2-for-3 with a two-run triple in the fifth inning.
For the whole tournament, Yaun was 6-for-20 at the plate with two triples and six RBIs.
In addition, she scored three runs and played center field.
“Kate was a pleasure to coach,” Fedeli said. “She gave it her all every game. She is just an outstanding person and softball player.”
Yaun and her teammates played in the Sydney Olympic Complex where the softball games were held during the 2000 Summer Olympics.
“It was a really cool experience,” Yaun said. “Meeting all of my teammates was cool. They were all so great, I really got along with all of them.”
Although they spent much of their time practicing and playing games, the USA Blue team members also took the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Australia. Among the places Yaun and her teammates visited were Bondi Beach, which she noted is a very popular beach for surfers, and Darling Harbor in Sydney.
“They love Americans over there,” said Yaun, who has a dual major in special education/childhood education at SUNY Cortland. “But when you say that you’re from New York, they automatically think that you live in New York City not out in the country.
“Australia is a very safe, clean place,” she added.
To go on the trip halfway around the world, Yaun had to raise approximately $4,300 for airfare, lodging and other expenses.
She received a $500 scholarship through the USA Softball program, but had to collect the rest through donations from businesses and individuals in the Liberty community.
“I am very grateful to everyone who made donations,” Yaun said. “I really appreciate it.”
In addition to the unforgettable experience of playing softball for her country in Australia, Yaun competed closer to home this summer. She was a member of the Tout Va Bien/Pro Prospects team, which in July hosted the New York State Women’s 23-and-Under ASA Open Fast Pitch Tournament at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley. She also played for TVB/PP in tournaments in New York and other states.
This spring, Yaun played in all 45 games for the SUNY Cortland Lady Red Dragons. She was named to the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Commissioner’s Academic List and the SUNYAC All-Academic Team.
In addition, she was chosen by her teammates to be one of the co-captains for the Lady Red Dragons’ 2007 softball season.
Kate, who is the daughter of Tim and Cindy Yaun of Liberty, is not the only athlete in the family. Older brother Nick was a top golfer for the Liberty Central School team and now works at Jim McLean School of Golf in Florida. In 2003, Nick Yaun and Sean Semenetz teamed up to win the Democrat’s annual Two-Man, Better Ball Golf Tournament.
Naturally, her brother and parents have supported Kate throughout the hundreds of innings she has spent on the softball diamond since she was a youngster.
“Kate has done a lot with softball over the years,” Tim Yaun said. “We’re very proud of her.”