116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Former football player and sports broadcaster David Icke once said 'today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground.”
This year's Xavier boys' varsity basketball team is filled with many great oaks.
Three sophomores - Brody Hoffmann, Aidan Yamilkoski and Aidan McDermott - have proved that with teamwork and dedication anyone can hold their ground and see their dreams come true.
The Saints (11-10) play at Davenport Assumption tonight in a Class 3A substate semifinal.
These three boys have history with basketball and their friendship.
'I've been playing with the two other sophomores (McDermott and Hoffmann) since the second grade and we have always been teammates, so we are used to sticking by each other during practices and games,” Yamilkoski said.
The boys played on Team Iowa Elite in elementary school and together they made some unforgettable memories.
'One of my favorite memories with Aidan and Brody is when we won state in the fifth grade,” McDermott said.
Yamilkoski's father, Andy Yamilkoski, who has been active in Aidan's love for the game since the first grade, has been able to witness the boys' bond growing through the years playing together.
'Brody, Aidan and Aidan have always had a friendly, but competitive, friendship,” Andy said. 'I believe that playing on the same team for years created bonds on and off the court and all three of them are very gifted. Their competitive nature tends to motivate each of them to be better.”
The three could credit the support they have given and received from each other for their success.
'The biggest reason I believe I am able to play on varsity as an underclassman is the encouragement I have received from Aidan and Aidan and them pushing me to try my best,” Hoffmann said.
Obviously talented, the three still face struggles playing at a higher level with older teammates.
'Being younger than the other guys on the team makes it hard to gain respect from the upperclassman and gain trust from them on and off the court,” Yamilkoski said.
However, senior Jack Breitbach has seen their efforts on the team and the trio do not go unrecognized by the upperclassmen.
'It doesn't matter what grade they're in,” Breitbach said. 'Derm (McDermott) and Brody are more quiet and keep to themselves (on the court) and Yamo (Yamilkoski) is more talkative, but no matter how they are, they're just as much a teammate as anyone else.”
Luckily, the boys face those challenges together and stick by each others' sides.
'The boys get through challenges just like they did when they were younger, head on,” Andy said. 'You can't always teach toughness, you're either born a willow or born an oak.”
Over the years, these oak born boys have been able to develop a dynamic bond, which has helped them value the importance of bonds between teammates.
'The energy has changed, but in a good way. The older we get the more we realize that we need to put our strengths together in order to succeed,” McDermott said.
McDermott is not the only one who has seen a change between the three. Hoffmann has seen growth in their bond as friends and teammates as well.
'The energy between us has changed in only a positive way,” Hoffmann said. 'It helps us want to become better players and want to be a part of the game more. Before, we were all stuck in our heads with the idea of being the best and we thought we could only get to that spot independently, but now I know in order for someone to get to the top they can't do it alone.”