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Scottdale native Yake to share stories from Southwestern sports history

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 6:43 p.m.

A native son who has reached great heights in a journalism career and now has a second career in helping to teach children to write, will entertain audiences at West Overton Museum on Sunday.

D. Byron Yake will give an autobiographical talk related to his career when he presents: “Sports and World News” from 2 to 4 p.m. at West Overton Village & Museums. Yake will be the third and final speaker in West Overton's 2013-2014 “Parlor Talk” series.

“Southwestern Pennsylvania is full of sports fans and Byron Yake will certainly interest all of the sports fans out there. At the same time, he will also be an inspiration to those who are seeking a career in journalism. So, be sure to join us,” said Jessica Kadie Barclay, managing director, West Overton Village & Museums.

He got his start in the newspaper business as a carrier for the Daily Courier as a young boy living in Scottdale.

“I covered Market Street and Walnut Street and at one point I built it up to 90 subscriptions,” Yake said.

Yake graduated from Scottdale High School in 1957 then went on to graduate from Goshen College in Indiana. He started his career in journalism at the Mt. Pleasant Journal where he was editor from 1963 to 1968.

“I loved working in Mt. Pleasant and getting to know a small town inside and out. It was a great foundation for me and I'll always treasure it. It got me into the news business,” Yake said.

Yake left the Journal to work for the Associated Press in Pittsburgh. After covering general news there for about a year, Yake covered the AP Sports desk there for three years then went back to covering general news before moving into management.

He spent 10 years at the Pittsburgh news bureau and eventually ran that bureau before he was promoted to New Jersey bureau chief. He held that position for two years, then became the AP's general sports editor overseeing all AP sports stories worldwide. He held that position for five years. He also held a variety of other management and executive positions throughout the 25 years he spent in the New York office.

Yake retired in 2005, but he did not rest on his laurels. He founded a nonprofit organization Write on Sports Inc. of which he is executive director.

“When I retired I tried to figure out how I wanted to contribute and I figured if I could teach kids to write about sports, maybe I could make a difference in their lives,” he said.

The organization offers summer camps and after-school programs designed to inspire students to write by utilizing their passion for sports and providing them with a set of skills that can be applied to academic areas beyond sports writing. Yake said there is a four or five to one student to teacher ratio.

“We take them from where they are and try to take them to the next step,” he said. “The goal is to serve as many disadvantaged kids as we can, but it's not exclusively for disadvantaged kids.”

While the program Yake created helps others, he said he feels lucky to have this as a second career that gives him great joy.

“The opportunity to have a second career where I can pull in all of my interests and hobbies and passions, how fortunate am I to be able to do that,” he said.

Yake said his talk at West Overton will consist of stories about his life and career, and he will talk about his nonprofit organization.

“Hopefully, the audience will find some meaningful aspect, because I think everyone should give back to their community in whatever way they can and I hope that message comes across,” he said.

While in the area, Yake will share his knowledge with local students. He said he will be visiting journalism classes at Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant high schools on Monday.

West Overton Parlor Talks are sponsored by the Scottdale Bank & Trust Co. Those who are attending are asked to make a donation at the door on the day of the event.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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