Caitlin Yenne is heading back to where it all started. The Centralia College women’s basketball standout and Lacey native is on her way back to Thurston County after signing to play with Evergreen State College on Sunday.
Yenne, a 5-foot-8 shooting guard, built a reputation as a dogged defender the past two seasons for the Trailblazers. The 2019-20 West Region Defensive Player of the Year. Her 73 steals, 2.6 per game, were fourth most in the 34-team Northwest Athletic Conference this season. She also recorded 23 blocks.
But the sophomore emerged as a legitimate scoring threat this season, leading the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game to go with 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. She shot 41 percent from the field and 30 percent from long range. It earned her first team all-West Region honors.
Yene credits her offensive outburst to her teammates and her defense. Many of her buckets came off a transition steal or a teammates pick and pass that would find her open downcourt.
“I’ve never been much of an offensive player,” Yenne said. “I’ve been a defensive player my whole career, so this was different for me to be a high scorer. I feel like I was consistent every game, on the scoreboard at least, but my goal always was to be 100 percent on defense. The offense comes with it, though.”
Yenne, who’s been playing basketball since she was six years old, never imagined she’d be in the position she’s in right now. Soccer was her first sport, but basketball became her No. 1 love once she got started.
“I did not expect that I’d be signing at a university,” Yenne said. “I’ve always believed I can play at the next level after high school. I knew community college was probably going to be the best fit for me.”
She started 27 of 28 games this season while leading the Trailblazers to a 21-7 record, including a 14-game win streak, an unblemished 14-0 league record and a No. 1 seed at the NWAC tourney that was canceled due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. It was an early and frustrating end for the red-hot Trailblazers who were legit title contenders.
“That was really disappointing, but I was glad I got to spend more time with my teammates,” Yenne said. “I believe we would have made it all the way.”
She is, however, happy to be heading back to where her career started. The 2018 River Ridge High School graduate was the 2A South Puget Sound MVP her senior year after posting 15 points, six assists and five rebounds a game.
Now she’ll bring her shooting talents and lockdown defense to help provide a boost to an Evergreen State Geoducks team that went 6-17 during the 2019-20 season.
One of the main factors in her decision to sign with Evergreen was that it’s just a hop, skip and jump across Interstate 5 from her family’s home in Lacey to the Evergreen campus. Plus, it helps that she knows the Evergreen coaching staff well. Has known head coach Jackie Robinson since she was in eighth grade and played for him her freshman year. Assistant coach James Chandler was Robinson’s assistant coach during Yenne’s freshman year at River Ridge, as well.
“That was one of the main factors to get me to go there,” Yenne said. “It really fit all the goals I was trying to meet. I’m just excited to be moving on to a new team and a new coaching staff. It’s a whole new experience. I’ve never played at a university before and it’s going to be cool being at the next level. It’ll be cool having more of my family and friends coming to my games because it’s right there in my hometown.”