For his Eagle Scout project, Sam Yavitt built a cedar fence at the Winnetka Historical Society.
Yavitt is a senior at New Trier and a member of the school’s varsity boys water polo team. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds.
His polo game, in four words:
“Sam is a grinder,” Trevians water polo coach David Rafferty-Flatter said after his crew defeated Loyola Academy 13-5 in the championship game of the Glenbrook North Sectional on May 13. “He puts his boots on each day, rolls up his sleeves and goes to work.
“Sam,” the coach added, “understands the game, gets the big picture, understands his role.”
One of the sport’s thankless but crucial tasks — drawing an ejection, thus producing a man-up situation for your team — is something the tough-minded Yavitt does quite well. Those adept at forcing an opponent to tread in polo’s penalty corner for 20 seconds must be able to absorb a pounding and quash any urge to retaliate.
“You need incredible leg strength [to succeed at the 2-meter hole set], along with having the knowledge of positioning,” Loyola Academy coach Daniel Hengelmann said. “Sam is an absolute monster 2-meter player.”
Rafferty-Flatter figured Yavitt had drawn 100-plus ejections in 33 games. Some of his other numbers: 73 goals (fourth among teammates) and 22 assists. Yavitt poured in four goals in the sectional final last weekend, including one off an electric feed from his twin, Henry Yavitt, in the second quarter.
Henry whipped a cross-pool pass to a wide-open Sam, who one-timed (caught and shot) it from close range. The sib-to-sib connection expanded NT’s lead to 4-1.
“I create attention when I have the ball, and that’s when I look for open teammates,” said Sam, who played prep football — as a defensive end and a tight end — for nearly three seasons before an MCL tear in a knee ended his junior season in October 2015. “I don’t score a lot of goals, but I’m fine with that. Coach likes to tell us how important it is to buy into our system.
“We all do.”
NT’s system in 2017 has generated 31 victories in 33 games, with at least one more game to play: a state quarterfinal against Lyons Township on May 19, beginning at 5:45 p.m. at Stevenson. NT’s two losses (7-6, 10-8) have been to Stevenson (33-0), which edged NT 13-12 in overtime in a state semifinal last spring (NT then topped St. Ignatius 13-10 for third place, the best state showing in program history).
A preseason illpolo.com all-stater, Sam Yavitt will play competitive water polo at San Jose State University. Henry Yavitt — another preseason all-state pick, along with New Trier seniors Mason McQuet and Danilo Scekic — plans to continue his polo career at the Air Force Academy.
Their father, Keith Yavitt — a Trevians varsity water polo assistant — wore a polo cap for University of Arizona teams.
The water-polo gene pool is overflowing in the Yavitt house.
“What I like most about water polo, especially during the high school season, is the opportunity I get to enter a pool after a day of classes and work with my teammates,” said Sam, who attended a Bucknell (Pennsylvania) University water polo camp, trained with Northern Illinois Polo Club (NIPC) players and coaches and competed in the Illinois Water Polo Showcase last summer.
“If I’m having a bad day, playing water polo helps me forget about it, and I don’t have to deal with any distractions when I’m in the water.”
Yavitt’s water-polo-heavy summer upped his intensity for the sport and enabled him to sharpen his fundamentals.
The result: one scary-good polo player.
“I am a horror-movie guy,” a smiling Yavitt revealed minutes after clutching the Glenbrook North Sectional championship plaque and holding it up for a cluster of applauding NT fans in the bleachers last weekend. “I like Insidious and Conjuring, movies like that. Ghost movies.”
Grab a tub of popcorn at Stevenson this weekend and take in the state-tourney action at the school’s natatorium.
Expect some compelling theater.
Notable: New Trier senior Danilo Scekic scored a team-high five goals in the Trevians’ 13-5 defeat of Loyola Academy’s Ramblers in the Glenbrook North Sectional final on May 13. NT senior Mason McQuet (3 goals) capped the scoring in the second and third quarters and once again played stout defense. The victorious goalkeeper was Cole Maizel (8.55 goals-against average), who limited LA to two goals in the first half. Entering this weekend’s state quarterfinals, Maizel ranked second among Trevians in assists, with 45; Henry Yavitt — the team’s leading scorer (128 goals) — had 58 assists. NT’s other highly productive Trevians are Scekic (87 goals, 43 assists); McQuet (83 goals, 33 assists); and Sam Yavitt (73 goals, 22 assists). … LA coach Dan Hengelmann, on Henry Yavitt: “The best player in the state.” … Hengelmann, on Sam Yavitt: “The nicest guy you’re ever going to meet.” …. Hengelmann, on the Yavitt brothers: “They’ve got that phenomenal twin chemistry going for them.” … Hengelmann, on New Trier’s team: “The whole team has great chemistry.”
Loyola Academy: John Merucci tossed in three goals, including one on a five-meter penalty shot in the third quarter, in the Ramblers’ 13-5 loss to New Trier’s Trevians in the Glenbrook North Sectional final on May 13. Charlie Freedman and Tommy Barr scored the team’s other two goals. LA finished with a 19-12-2 record.