Yeatman's House Escapes Fire Damage

Normally, Will Yeatman is able to forget about his responsibilities and problems when he puts on his pads and goes out on the Notre Dame football practice field. But early last week he was unable to do so. The sophomore tight end's thoughts were back home with his family, whom had to be evacuated from their San Diego home because of the wildfires being blown into the neighborhood by fierce winds.

"It's time to just free your mind and get out there and play," Yeatman said of practice. "But for the first time in my life, I had it in my mind all practice long."

Yeatman constantly checked his cell phone whenever he could, hoping and waiting for an update.

Everything ended up being just fine, and as Yeatman returned home over fall break during the middle of last week, his family was also allowed to return to their home, arriving an hour before the 6-foot-6, 263-pound Yeatman walked through the door.

"My family was evacuated for three days," Yeatman said. "The fire burnt right up to my fence. My Dad doesn't know why our house didn't burn down to be honest."

Yeatman's father told him that during one point, the flames and smoke were blowing over the house, and you couldn't see the place.

"At that point he said there is no way our house is going to make it through this," Yeatman said.

Surprisingly it did, and only one neighboring house was damaged. The winds finally died down, and the police were able to put out the fire creaping up to the Yeatman residence. Unfortunately, many of the surrounding neighborhoods were hit hard by the fires.

Yeatman's family sought out safety with friends in Del Mar, Calif. They had to be evacuated again with the fires being on the move, and they made the trip down to San Diego State to stay with Yeatman's sister, before being allowed to return home.

"My homecoming was a bit bittersweet, because I went back to San Diego which was burning while I was there, and my town got pretty much destroyed," Yeatman explained. "Fortunately my house didn't get burned down, but it came extremely close to burning down. So I spent a lot of time with family and friends who had lost their house, spent a lot of time cleaning my house up because there was ash and leaves everywhere. The pool was destroyed, but I mean you can't really complain too much because the house was still standing. Then other than that, really just relaxed a lot, kind of laid low, and then got to spend some quality time with family and friends."

With everything being okay, Yeatman can now turn his full attention to Notre Dame's (1-7) game this weekend against Navy (4-4). And there is no game on the schedule bigger than the Irish-Middies match-up in the Yeatman household.

Yeatman's father and grandfather attended the Naval Academy. Yeatman, who also starred on Notre Dame's lacrosse team last spring, grew up in Annapolis, Md., where Navy is located. He frequently returned after moving out west. Up until he was 14 years old, he always wanted to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps and attend the Academy himself.

However in an instance, that idea changed.

"I'd always gone back to Annapolis for a month out of the summer," Yeatman said. "That's where I got a lot of experience playing against tough competition in lacrosse, going to different lacrosse camps. I went to the Navy camp, and I remember my brother was my roommate. We were woken up at like exactly four in the morning by plebes doing their plebe conditioning and plebe drills, running around doing their marches. And I remember just saying, I don't know if this place is for me. After that, I still had love for the place and once they started recruiting me, I took an unofficial visit for a day and met with their football and lacrosse coaching staffs. That certainly was kind of cemented in my mind that maybe that's not for me."

The prep lacrosse All-American, and Rancho Bernardo football standout eventually signed with Notre Dame. With that, his father will be rooting for the Irish to extend their 43-game winning streak (the longest streak in NCAA history) over Navy this weekend.

"I don't want my Dad's Navy friends to hear this, but he actually said he's on my side," Yeatman said. He has six receptions for 37 yards this season. "He said the four years you play Navy as a Notre Dame player, I'll root for Notre Dame. They're all pulling for me pretty hard, and we just really want to get a win."


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