Fremd Girls Basketball Coach Dave Yates Named NFHS Spirit of Sport Section 4 Award Winner

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Fremd Girls Basketball Coach Dave Yates Named NFHS Spirit of Sport Section 4 Award Winner

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The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce its nominee for the 2023-24 National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sprit of Sport Award is Fremd High School (Palatine) girls basketball coach Dave Yates.

The NFHS selected Yates as its Section 4 winner of the award, making him the seventh individual from Illinois to be named a section winner. Section 4 includes the nominees from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The Spirit of Sport Award was developed to recognize teams or individuals associated with high school athletic programs who have overcome incredible adversity or gone above and beyond their peers in actions or service.

Yates built Fremd into one of the most successful girls basketball programs in the state, reaching the IHSA Class 4A State Finals four times prior to the 2023-24 season, including winning the state championship in 2020.

In April of 2023, flu-like symptoms led Yates to see a doctor, but he was quickly sent to the emergency room where he would ultimately be diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. Glioblastoma Multiforme is an aggressive and incurable brain cancer that typically carries a median of 14 months of survival from diagnosis.

“The fact that he is not only here, but fully functional, is nothing short of a miracle,” said Yates’ wife Kathy.

Yates suffered a brain seizure the day after being diagnosed and was rushed into emergency brain surgery. Six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy followed, which were then followed by a second craniotomy surgery. He underwent chemotherapy throughout the season and also wears an Optune head device, which creates Tumor Treating Fields, which are electric fields that slow down or stop GBM cancer cell division.

“I went into this year not really knowing what to expect,” said Coach Yates. “My goal was to try and make it back by the summer to coach some camps and keep going from there.”

Despite his harrowing journey and prognosis, Yates has remained unwavering in his commitment to his students and team. He has continued to work as the Chair of the Mathematics Department at Fremd and did not miss a practice or game for the basketball team this season.

“I really enjoy the development of each team within each season,” said Coach Yates. “The togetherness that occurs.”

The 2023-24 campaign proved to be a memorable one for the Vikings. Along the way, Yates was informed of his impending enshrinement in the 2024 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and he also collected his 400th career victory. Ultimately, a fifth state final trip was in the cards, as the Vikings finish 30-7 and placed third in Class 4A.

“Given everything that Dave was facing in his personal life, I think the expectation for 99% precent of coaches would have been to step away,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We marveled at Dave’s commitment to his students and team. To not only continue to coach, but do so at such a high level is as inspiring as it is selfless. The IHSA is so proud to be represented by Dave Yates with the Spirit of Sport Award.”

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