Grace Yocum had a goal of playing NCAA DI basketball and a plan that included a stop at a junior college.
The plan worked.
Yocum, a sophomore on Vincennes University’s women’s basketball team, signed with Western Carolina on Nov. 13. VU is a junior college located in Vincennes, Indiana.
“My goal was to play at a DI school, and going to VU (Vincennes University) was a step toward that,” Yocum said.
Yocum, a 6-3 center, is a 2018 graduate of Frankfort High School. She is the daughter of Mac Yocum and Julia Harmon-Yocum.
Yocum has played in 10 of Vincennes’ 11 games this fall with four starts. The Trailblazers are 8-3 going into a home game Wednesday against Wabash Valley.
“We’re not ranked, but we have a good team,” Yocum said. “Coach (Harry) Meeks and coach (Clyde) Buck do a good job at bringing players in and improving them.”
Western Carolina, in Cullowhee, North Carolina, is a member of the Southern Conference, which includes schools such as UNC-Greensboro, Furman, Wofford, East Tennessee State, Samford, Mercer and Chattanooga.
“A lot of it was the coaching staff,” Yocum said about her decision to sign with Western Carolina. “Coach (Kiley) Hill, I like his plan for rebuilding Western Carolina and how he coaches. I saw him in practice, and I liked the way he coaches, the way he instructs. And the campus is beautiful.”
Hill is in his first season at Western Carolina.
“Grace is going to be our diamond in the rough,” Hill said in a story posted on the school’s website about his team’s early signings. “She provides needed size, length and high intelligence on and off the floor in our post area.
“I’m super excited to have the chance to help shape and mold her game because she wants to get better and will make all the needed sacrifices to achieve her goals and ours as well.”
The hard work she’s put in so far has resulted in an increase of confidence.
“Being able to go in and compete, I’m more confident in my play and strength,” Yocum said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger than I was my freshman year.
“This summer I worked out a lot with (trainer) Roni Robinson, and that helped me put on a lot muscle, and I’ve continued in the weight room at school.”
Yocum will graduate from Vincennes with an associate's degree in psychology, and she plans to major in psychology at Western Carolina.
“It’s a relief,” she said about her decision, “and I’m excited I’ve gotten next year secured.
“When you put in the hard work and reach your goal, that’s definitely a good feeling.”