Michael Yanover was on a lot of teams during his days at Napa High School. He was on soccer, basketball and baseball teams.
He played one season of football. It was his senior year and he was the team’s kicker.
His love of sports was not limited to Napa High, as he also played on travel soccer teams with the Napa Valley Soccer Club and Sacramento United. He played for a team from the state of Washington, which won the “B” Cup at the Norway Cup.
During the summer, he played baseball for Napa American Legion.
“It was a lot of fun,” Yanover said of being a multi-sport athlete. “I loved it. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. It was definitely a lot of work going directly from one sport to the next sport. It was exciting to join another team for the next season.
“It was my life. There was never a break, that’s for sure. But it was fantastic. I guess we’re defined by the things that we do. I did my best every day to be a good teammate and work hard and get better at whatever sport I was playing.”
Yanover was good at each of the sports he played and as a senior was named as the Napa Valley Register’s Male Athlete of the Year for the 2001-02 school year.
Sixteen years after his graduation, Yanover will be recognized as one of the greatest athletes in school history when he is inducted into the Napa High Athletic Hall of Fame next month. Yanover, a 2002 graduate, and three others were selected by a committee for the Hall of Fame, which is now in its 22nd year.
“I have great, positive memories. Tons of great friendships,” Yanover, 34, said in a telephone interview last week. “For a long time, it’s who I was. There really was so much that went into it.
“I consider it not just recognition for me. It’s really for all of the athletes that were part of that athletic program while I was there and even afterwards.
“It’s nice to be able to highlight the influence that I got from my coaches.”
The newest class includes Don McConnell (Class of 1964), Bill Merrell (Class of 1982), and Brent Farris (Class of 1991).
The Hall of Fame’s selection committee votes on the nominees after reviewing the nominations and hearing presentations by nominators. A successful nominee needs 75 percent of the total points possible.
This year’s Hall of Fame class will be honored between Napa’s junior varsity and varsity football games on Oct. 12 against Casa Grande-Petaluma at Napa Memorial Stadium.
A dinner and enshrinement ceremony is the following night, Oct. 13, at Embassy Suites Napa Valley.
Individuals may be nominated in one of three categories for the Hall of Fame: athlete, coach and special.
To date, there are 143 members of the Hall of Fame, whose membership dates to 1912. The NHS Athletic HOF Foundation is a nonprofit organization.
Yanover played forward on his soccer teams, was the point guard in basketball, and played center field in baseball.
He had a lot of success in each sport.
He was the All-Napa County Player of the Year as a junior in soccer.
He had a tremendous senior year. He was MEL MVP and All-County Player of the Year in soccer as team captain. He was the All-County kicker for football. He was All-MEL, All-County and team MVP as team captain in basketball. He was All-County in baseball as team captain.
He averaged over 10 points per game, and besides leading Napa in assists and finishing second in rebounds, was the team’s top defensive player in basketball.
“He was one of the fastest players I’ve seen with the ball,” said Denny Lewis, Napa’s head coach from 1974-2002 who is in the school’s Hall of Fame. “Defensively, he was one of those players that you could put on someone and basically he’s going to shut them down. You always place him on the opponent’s best player.
“He was one of those players that you just don’t see too often, that really worked hard defensively.”
Yanover was one of the top defensive players at the point guard position to play for Lewis.
“I thought he was the best defensive player in the (Monticello Empire League) at that time,” said Lewis. “He was one of the better defensive players we’ve ever had – a great athlete, great athletic talent, very strong kid, great reactions.
“Offensively, very talented. Extremely efficient. He loved to penetrate. He was really good with the ball going to the bucket. Very strong, with great strength in his hands.”
Yanover scored 100 goals and had 50 assists during his soccer career at Napa.
Resident of San Francisco
Yanover, who was on the NHS Honor Roll all four years, lives in San Francisco and works as an account executive for Building Connected.
He graduated from San Diego State in 2007 with a degree in finance and a minor in economics.
He did not play any sports in college.
“I decided I wanted to take a different path, that I wanted to focus on studying on an eventual career,” Yanover said.
Yanover’s sister, Janalyn Yanover (volleyball, basketball, swimming), and brother, David Yanover (basketball, soccer), both played sports at Napa High.