Katie Yoder

School: Pennridge



Favorite athlete: Steph Curry 

Favorite team: Sixers 

Favorite memory competing in sports: Getting Coach Rapp to griddy in the locker room.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My teammates pantsing me while walking onto the court.  

Music on playlist: Country 

Future plans: Attend Goldey-Beacom to play basketball.

Words to live by:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - Philippians 4:13

One goal before turning 30: Have a job that I love.

One thing people don't know about me: My favorite food is stromboli.

By Mary Jane Souder

March of 2020.

A time that will always be remembered as the beginning of the unprecedented COVID pandemic shutdown. Everyone hunkered down in their homes, their world put on hold. Some – student-athletes in particular - chose to use the time to work on their craft.

Katie Yoder – then a 15-year-old freshman - was in that number. The Pennridge senior points to that time period as the most pivotal period in her growth as a basketball player.

Instead of settling in front of the computer or television, Yoder worked on her game. Her three older brothers – all basketball players themselves – can vouch for that.

Luke Yoder, two years Katie’s senior, laughs when he recalls waking up to the thump, thump, thump of his sister dribbling the basketball.

“She’d be in the garage early morning, she’d work out super early, and we’d actually wake up to her dribbling the basketball in the garage. It was funny – ‘Oh come on, Kate, you couldn’t wait a little longer?’” Luke said. “All of us had individual workouts with her to help her get better and do whatever we could to help her because we wanted to see her succeed, but we heard that, and we’re like, ‘Oh man, already?’ She’s a hard worker, and she brings the most out of everything.”

For Yoder, basketball has never been work. Instead, it’s been an undeniable passion.

“She loves basketball,” Pennridge coach Jason Rapp said. “You don’t have a lot of kids that just go in the gym and shoot and always want to be there. They don’t need a trainer, they just go in and play. Katie loves playing.”

It was not unusual for Yoder to ask the first-year coach to open the gym last summer.

“If I could get in after the floor was stripped and redone, she would go in there work out and shoot,” Rapp said. “She just really enjoys being around the game.

“When your best players are the people that work the hardest, especially as a first-year coach in a program, it helps with everything – ‘Listen, if you guys want to be this good, this is what it takes.’ Katie doesn’t say a lot, and when she does, people listen because it’s rare. She’s lets her game talk, she lets her attitude and the way she approaches the game talk.”

Dean Reiman had the opportunity to coach Yoder for three years on the AAU circuit as a member of the Lehigh Valley Fever.

“She’s an unbelievable kid,” Reiman said. “She’s just a kid you love to coach. She works really, really hard, but she has that special combination of she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

“She really likes to work and never misses a practice or workout. We have a spring training program at Lehigh, and she was always at that. She really tried to get every ounce out of her ability that she could.”

Yoder has reaped the benefits of her hard work and will continue her career at the Division 2 level at Goldey-Beacom College. Although she boasts outstanding skills, ask Reiman to talk about the Pennridge senior, and his comments suggest she might be an even better person than player.

“She’s one of those kids that sometimes impacts you as much as you hope to impact them,” the veteran coach said. “She’s just a free spirit. Her personality is so bubbly, and she’s so much fun to be around.

“The kids in our program love being around her. She’s just a genuinely down-to-earth kid. If you know her family, it’s not surprising that’s who she is. She’s just a kid you love to coach.”

“That describes her so well,” Luke said of Reiman’s assessment. “She’s always so upbeat, she wants to make everybody’s life better, easier, and she always finds joy in whatever it is.

“There could be something (bad) happening, and I know she’s going to smile and make the best of it.”

A love of competition

Yoder came by her love of sports honestly. Her mother, Kristen, played collegiate softball, and her father, Dave, excelled in basketball at Dock Mennonite Academy and went on to play at Moravian College.

With three older brothers – Luke, Kyle and Sean, Katie grew up going to games, all kinds of games. She loved every minute of it and began playing intramural basketball when she was just five years old. She played plenty of other sports – lacrosse, soccer, softball, and she even did dance, but basketball was always her passion.

“I just loved it all the time,” she said. “I really looked up to my brothers from a super young age. I thought it was super cool seeing everything they could do.”

A trait shared by all the siblings is the fact they’re competitive, very competitive, and it surfaced during spirited games in the family’s driveway.

“We played pretty much all the time – I went against them, and a lot of fights happened,” Yoder said. “Not even just playing together - they would let me work out with them, and they made me so much better. They taught me a lot of different things, and everything I learned from them just was beneficial.”

With all three of her brothers at home during the pandemic, 2v2 games were a regular occurrence. Katie was paired with Kyle, and they took on Luke and Sean. Sean, the eldest of the four, is a D1 basketball player who has been a fixture in the starting lineup at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Sean and Luke are both insanely athletic, and poor Kyle was paired up with me,” said Katie. “Was it fair? Probably not, but it was a ton of fun,” Luke said. “For her to play with Kyle – Kyle’s super tough, he’s very competitive and he wants to win whereas Sean and I - we can dial it back a little bit, so for Kyle and Katie to be together – it really brought out the best in Katie and made her work super hard just always trying to do the right thing. I think it really helped make her tough.”

Katie had no complaints about the arrangement.

“I would say over COVID was one of my biggest times of improvement,” she said. “I was looking forward to AAU starting, and it shut down. Then I realized – this is my biggest time to get better. Other people may not be working as hard as I am.”

So work and compete she did because everything – according to Katie - is a competition, and she isn’t kidding. Just ask Luke.

“It was probably when Katie and I were both in middle school, so I was in eighth and she was in sixth, and we were working out, and at the end, we finished with a competition – who could shoot better free throws out of 10, and the loser had to do 100 pushups,” Luke recalled. “We’ll just leave it at - I still haven’t done those 100 pushups, and she still brings it up to this day that she beat me. She’s a true competitor and always looking to have some fun.”

Leaving a mark

Yoder, who started travel basketball in third grade, began competing with a locall AAU team in seventh grade. Sophomore year, she switched to the more competitive Lehigh Valley Fever.

She was a fixture in Pennridge’s varsity lineup since she was a freshman, but with a shortened sophomore season due to the pandemic, Yoder always believed her chances of reaching the 1,000-point milestone would be ‘super slim.’

As a matter of fact, she had no idea how many points she had, and neither did anyone else.

“I saw Sean do it, and I was like, - ‘That would be really cool, I want that to happen,’ but then COVID hit,” Katie said. “The three previous years we had never been in playoffs.

“During the summer, coach Rapp mentioned during our camp that he thought I was close. I said, ‘No, definitely not.’ No one really talked about it for a while, and at the beginning of the season, he said, ‘We need to figure out where you’re at.’ I was like – Oh, I don’t think we’re that close.’”

Trying to find out just how close she was required considerable effort since no one had access the scorebooks from previous years, so the only alternative was watching past games on Hudl to fill in the gaps in her scoring totals.

Eventually, Yoder’s point total was nailed down, and Yoder went into her team’s game against Central Bucks South – the third last game of the regular season - needing 12 points. She made it look easy, burying a pair of early 3s and scoring the milestone basket on her team’s first possession of the second quarter.

“It’s very special seeing her succeed because she grew up going to all of our basketball games, baseball games, lacrosse games, so for us to be able to watch her was super awesome to see all of her hard work pay off,” said Luke, who along with Sean and Kyle watched their sister put her name in the program’s record books on a FaceTime call.

Even before he took over the helm, Rapp knew about Katie.

“I knew she was really good, and I knew she had the Yoder footsteps to follow at Pennridge,” he said. “Everyone let me know about that, and everyone lets her know about it.

“I saw her play a couple of times last year, and I was like, ‘Wow, she can really score.’ She’s like a college player – that’s the first thing I realized. This is probably from her brother – she approaches high school almost like a college kid. She gets in the gym early, she’s shooting, and she’s ready to work. It’s no fault to a lot of other kids – they just don’t know that because they never went to a Navy game and watch Sean warm up an hour-and-a-half before the game or find out there’s a shootaround in the morning for a two o’clock afternoon game.”

The transition to a new coach senior year can be a difficult one. This transition – according to Yoder – was seamless, and the Rams earned their first trip to districts in Yoder’s four-year career.

A first team all-league selection in each of the last two years, Yoder averaged close to 19 points and six rebounds a game.

“As an offensive player, she is as good as anybody,” Rapp said. “Her footwork is unbelievable. Her release is college level. Her offensive game is complete.

“She’s probably going to be a wing in college. If there’s a mismatch, you throw her down on the post. She is really difficult to handle because her footwork is so good. She knows how to use screens. She’s a complete high school player, for sure.”

Although Yoder’s numbers are impressive, they are just part of the story.

“She’s a winner, she’s a competitor, and she’s relentless,” Reiman said. “There are some games where maybe her shot’s not falling, but she still finds a way to impact the game.

“I think the number one thing is she never takes a play off. She just plays hard all the time. She practices hard, she plays the game hard.

“There were games where she was frustrated that she didn’t play too well, but even after the games – I’d say to Dave Forker, who’s one of my assistant coaches – we can’t play without Katie because she just plays so hard all the time. So even when she’s frustrated that she’s not making a shot, she’s picking it up on the defensive end or she’s communicating and she’s leading. She’s just a winner.”

Looking ahead

Basketball will be part of Yoder’s future at Goldey-Beacom although the recruiting process was made a whole lot more difficult because of the pandemic.

“I was waiting to see from a bunch of other schools, but because of COVID and the fifth year for players, it messed up all of our recruiting,” Yoder said. “That was pretty stressful. I ended up finally deciding in late November.”

In the end, it came down to Goldey-Beacom and Jefferson University.  

“I went down for a visit, and I just really liked it there a lot,” Yoder said of the Delaware school. “I could see myself fit in. I think there’s a great role model with (Bethanne Burke) as the coach there. Everything about it just seemed perfect.”

Although uncertain of a major, Yoder is considering psychology or criminal justice.

This spring, she will be involved in Unified Track, and she is also part of Young Life in her community. 

She walks away from Pennridge basketball with memories that will last a lifetime.

“My best friends have come from the basketball team,” Yoder said. “They’re my closest friends. Just the memories we’ve made have been awesome.

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons throughout the years, making the best out of all situations.”

Yoder leaves with her name in the program’s record books and her coach with just one regret.

“I found out she’s one of the young seniors – she’s the youngest in her class,” Rapp said. “I want to tell her dad – ‘Why didn’t you hold her back?’”

There’s no mistaking – the senior captain’s shoes will be big ones to fill.

“We are all very proud of her and excited for her future,” Luke said. “She brings out the best in all of us.”