Yockey wins poetry contest; also signs to play with D3 Aurora

May 31, 2020

Nathan Yockey

On the basketball court, Nathan Yockey of Coffman Cove wants to utilize his 6-foot-4 frame by getting physical with opponents and pushing his weight around.

This past season the sophomore averaged double figures in scoring at Highline College and this spring signed with Aurora University, a NCAA D3 school in Illinois.

Off the court, Yockey avoids conflict. He loves nature and being secluded in the woods. He writes poetry about life in a small town on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

“I try to find deeper meanings in simple things,” he told me.

His work recently was recognized by Highline College’s 2020 Student Poetry Contest as Yockey beat out 50 other students and more than 100 entries to win the $200 first-place prize.

Yockey has long scripted a personal journal but had never entered a writing contest until he took a poetry class. He was urged by his professor Susan Rich to submit his work from the class.

“It was cool to get involved with other poets and get recognized a little bit for writing,” he said, “but I just like to write. It’s not so much about the poetry contest and the money.”

Yockey’s winning poem “Dead Light Switch” was inspired by his family’s modest beginnings of living in a hand-me-down trailer. As his parents began to renovate the home, they left unfixed a light switch that became the focus of his poem.

“It’s kind of representative of the growth, but at the same time, a reminder of the humble beginnings,” Yockey said.

“It was a tribute to my family and all of their hard work and everything they did,” Yockey said. “Growing up, I never realized all the sacrifices they made because our needs were always met. But I didn’t realize how much my parents had to struggle to meet those needs. When I was in college I kind of started to see that being out on my own.”

Yockey loves writing the same way he loves playing basketball and utilizes both hobbies as a release mechanism.

“I kind of have my ying and yang type deal of getting out my emotions and having an outlet to express myself,” he said.

Yockey, of Klawock High fame, started all 27 games as a sophomore at Highline and averaged 11.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the NWAC. He scored a season high 27 points.

“I treat basketball like my job. I take it seriously and do the things it takes for my team to win and that’s usually being straightforward, aggressive, confrontational,” he said.

“At home, that’s my more sensitive side; it’s where I’m a little bit more personal. I can’t be soft on the basketball court so I gotta have my two worlds separated because I want to be the best that I can be in both of them.”