Aaron Yantzi – University of Vermont
That Canadian Aaron Yantzi ended up at the University of Vermont isn’t unusual – the Catamounts have a tradition of players from north of the border. It did help, though, that she came from a small town where everyone knew her name – literally.
“It’s a very popular name,” she admitted with a laugh. “VERY popular. Say ‘Yantzi’ and they basically know your family tree.”
Not surprisingly, the city of Burlington (population 39,000) appealed to the Waterloo, Ontario native. “I like the small town atmosphere,” said Yantzi. “It felt like home. I knew I could have a great four years here.”
Named to the 2003 America East Preseason All-Conference Team, this season Yantzi has averaged 15.1 points per game, grabbing 5.1 rebounds, while shooting a coach-pleasing 80% from the free throw line. A former ice hockey player, the 6’1″ forward welcomes challenges in the paint.
“Getting in the mix – bumping people around,” said Yantzi with a grin. “I just love physical play.”
While reaching WNIT the quarterfinal last season garnered UVM more recognition, the 21-year-old psychology major is not sure she’d enjoy the media spotlight top programs like UConn and Duke endure.
“I’m not saying we’re not intense – we’re VERY intense,” reflected Yantzi. “But if I was a school like that, I don’t know if I would have as much fun.”
Lack of national “name” recognition hasn’t dissuaded the passionate fans that pack the Patrick Gym. “The community here is great – they just love us,” said Yantzi with obvious pleasure. “Fans follow us on the road – it doesn’t matter WHERE we’re going, they’re at the game.”
For her team to meet their goals – a conference championship and a trip to the NCCA tournament – Yantzi will have to do the little things – play strong defense, rebound and score. “I like to have the pressure on me,” said Yantzi, “to make that shot at the end of the game.” More challenging is being a leader on the court.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a natural,” she admitted. “I’m more ‘lead by example.'”
Realistic about her basketball future after UVM, Yantzi is content to enjoy her college experience. “I play the game because I love the game – everything about it,” explained the junior. “I can’t imagine coming to school and NOT playing basketball.”