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Trammell drives the ball past an opposing teams player in a game

Former athlete stays connected with program

With his playing days now a fading echo on the court, Demetrius Trammell has seamlessly transitioned into a new role — championing for the Yakima Valley men’s basketball program.

Trammell played for the Yaks during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons and set the school record for 3-point field goals, a mark that still stands today. But achieving success on and off the court took work.  

“I wanted to dribble a lot and do a layup,” says Trammell of when he first started his career with the Yaks. “Coach taught me to get my feet set, to make shots. Being in balance really made me shoot at a higher percentage at the 3-point line. It really helped me build that foundation.”

With the support of YVC’s coaches and counselor Rich Schillinger, Trammell also learned to balance his coursework and the demands on basketball.

“I feel like [playing at YVC] taught me a lot about the level I needed to be at to graduate,” says Trammell. “I wanted to be successful not only in the basketball aspect – but in my academics as well. Rich helped me learn about balancing workload and basketball. And helped me form a good foundation.”

 “I’m always sharing technique tips with the players on how they can improve.” — Demetrius Trammell 

Schillinger pointed to Trammell’s strong character and eagerness to learn as fundamental elements that have propelled his success.

“Demetrius came all the way out here from Georgia, across the country to hopefully pursue his ‘hoop dream,’” says Schillinger. “He was a good athlete and had potential — the reality is he needed so much more improvement physically and mentally. He went from a being a player who was not even one of the best on that year’s team at the start but ultimately ended up being one of the best players in YVC basketball history.”

After his time in Yakima, Trammell continued his playing career at Western Oregon University. But like many college athletes who don’t pursue professional sports careers post-college, Trammell dedicated himself to his academic pursuits and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in communications.

Trammell and friends cheer for the Men's Basketball Team during a recent game.
Trammell, right, and friends cheer for the men's basketball team during a game in February.

Trammell’s proactive approach and regular consultations with advisors stand out and are strategies Schillinger hopes other students will mirror.

“There are several things that stand out to me about Demetrius,” Schillinger said. “He understood what his strengths and weaknesses were academically and registered for classes accordingly. He also consistently sought out assistance from advisors.” 

Schillinger recalls  Trammell visiting his office each quarter to  share his quarterly plan and double check if it could be better. 

“In all my years of higher education, a highlight for myself was when he asked me to fill in for his parents on Sophomore Night for his final home game for the Yaks,” said Schillinger.

These days Trammell works as a paralegal for Washington state’s Office of the Attorney General and spends time with his wife and his young son. He also stays connected to the game he loves by supporting YVC’s programs — not only cheering on the team at home games but also working with the players and sharing insights from his own experiences.

 “I’m always sharing technique tips with the players on how they can improve,” he said. “I also work with players at open gyms, just let them know what’s ahead of them after community college.”

Trammell, left, speaks with players after a men's basketball game in February.

Trammell finds satisfaction in paying it forward and serving as a mentor, relishing the opportunity to guide and support others on their journeys.

“I grew up in West Point, Georgia. It was a small area, and I was never in a situation where I got to watch or interact with anyone who played at the level I aspired to,” he said. “It means a lot to help prepare them. I’m helping them get an advantage and prepare at the 4-year level.”

For Athletics Director Ray Funk and other YVC athletics staff, the benefits of keeping alumni, like Trammell, engaged with current players is clear.

“On some level it’s validation for the program’s mission, goals and accomplishments, and on another, it speaks to his positive experience with the YVC and Yakima communities,” says Funk.

Funk also feels that Trammell has become a positive role model and mentor for the next generation of Yaks.

“He has paved a path to a successful playing career at the NCAA Division 2 level and, more importantly, earning his bachelor’s degree,” said Funk. “While head coaches at YVC are always attempting to recruit quality student-athletes of character, skills, abilities and academic capacities for their programs, often student-athletes have deficits that provide growth opportunities in those areas. The fact that Demetrius still cares to be involved as much as he is and continues to maintain and cultivate relationships with his coaches and teammates really speaks highly of the growth mindset he possesses.”

Story by Stefanie Menard, AA-DTA ’05, communications consultant. Photos by Ross Courtney and from YVC archives.