|Written by Jeff Falk|
| People have always expected more from Kala Yoders than she has expected of herself.
Yoders, a highly skilled senior guard, is on the downside of what has been a very solid, but sometimes frustrating, career at Elco. If there’s been one thing that has characterized her four years in the Raider girls’ basketball program it’s that Yoders has done it her way.
A 1,000-point scorer, Yoders-led teams have enjoyed varying amounts of success on the court. Whether or not Yoders will take her considerable talents to the next level is still very much in question.
“I don’t know. I guess it’s pretty important,” Yoders of the place basketball has in her life. “I’ve been playing it since third grade. I love playing basketball. I love playing sports. If I didn’t play, I don’t know what I’d do. My best friends are on the team.”
“When you have great athletes or great players you always make assumptions,” said Elco head coach Dave Meyer. “Basketball hasn’t been her first love. I don’t know if I would’ve done things differently if she had the passion for basketball or loved basketball. She’s not like other great players who have concentrated on one thing.
“I think social acceptance to Kala is her first desire,” Meyer continued. “She’s very much a social being. And one of her endearing qualities is she’s very honest. She’s a very care-free spirit off the court. And it carries over to when she plays the game as well.”
In a way, the game of basketball comes very easy for the 5-10 Yoders. From rebounding to handling the ball to shooting, her God-given gifts allow her to do pretty much anything she wants on the floor.
“She’s the third best athlete I’ve coached at Elco,” said Meyer. “Alicia Hartlaub and Autumn Dougherty are the only ones in her class. But most of the realy talented players we’ve had have had talented players around them. Sometimes we’ve not given her enough support.
“There’s no secret that if she’s not on her game, it’s hard for us to be successful,” Meyer added. “It’s kind of unfair. But it’s just the way it is.”
“Yeah, people have told me I’m talented,” said Yoders. “I guess I’m just naturally gifted. I’m tall. I have long legs. I have big strides. And I’m fast. But I work at it.”
Elco’s leading rebounder, and top scorer at 18 points per outing, Yoders has coaxed the Raiders to a 9-6 overall mark and a 7-3 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three record. Elco is very much in contention for a section championship and a berth in the District Three Class AAA postseason.
“I think it’s going pretty well so far,” said Yoders of her senior season. “For me personally and our team. My success is because of my teammates. We’re doing pretty good as a team and that’s helping me.
“He’s (Coach Meyer) looking for me to score,” said Yoders. “I know that when I foul, I have to sit down. My presence in there hopefully can hold things together. He says I’m a good leader on the floor. I try to support my teammates and cheer them on.
“Coach Shay (the former Ashli Schwab) is always talking about how they went to districts,” Yoders continued. “I think it would be sweet to play at the Giant Center. I love the teams I’ve been on. But I’d like to play on one of those teams.”
“She’s asked to do an awful lot,” said Meyer. “She helps with ball handling. She’s given a lot of lattitude in running the fast break. She’s a key rebounder. When she’s out there I want her to be looking for opportunities all over the floor.
“It’s (Yoders’ senior season) been kind of reflective of the way the team has been. It’s been up and down,” Meyer continued. “The biggest issue has been foul trouble. It’s dictated how much she’s played and how well she’s played.”
Yoders has been shown interest by a couple of Division Two and Division Three colleges. But one can’t help but wonder how committed she is to playing on the next level.
“Yeah, there’s a couple of colleges interested,” said Yoders. “I think I’d miss it (if she didn’t play). I want to play in college, but I don’t know where. I probably should get on that.
“I think basketball is more important this year with going to college,” Yoders continued. “Before, I would play because I’m good at it and it’s fun. I always loved it as my favorite sport. Now it’s coming down to helping me with college.
“I know it’s going to be a bigger committment. Six days a week. Sometimes on Sundays. In Division Three, they want to win, but it’s not as serious.”
“I don’t know if she’ll play beyond high school,” said Meyer. “We’ll see. A lot of people make an assumption, ‘Oh well, she’s going to college.’ This has never been a goal for her.”