Chloe Yearwood has big plans.
The Tennessee Wesleyan University basketball player and Tellico Plains alumna will conclude her standout hoops career this upcoming season. Though just a rising sophomore, she is putting her dreams of working as a nurse ahead of her dreams on the court.
But don’t expect her to hold anything back in her final season.
“This will be my last year playing due to being in the nursing program (at Tennessee Wesleyan),” Yearwood told The Advocate & Democrat, “so I’m preparing to go out with a bang.”
An ‘unforgettable’ prep career
Before joining the Lady Bulldogs, Yearwood shined as a Lady Bear, helping Tellico Plains produce big results on the court.
“My career at Tellico was unforgettable,” Yearwood said. “I got to be a part of a team that went down in history as one of the best, with a record of 29-4. I got to experience what it was like to go to substate with my best friends.
“Personally, my career was great. I was able to break two records that helped my team to our biggest accomplishments.”
Among her personal accomplishments, Yearwood was named All-County three straight seasons. She was a star for a Lady Bears dynasty that has produced many.
Head coach Gary Tucker has led the program for more than 40 years, making an impact on numerous young athletes, Yearwood included.
“Most importantly, our coaches that pushed us to be the best we could be,” Yearwood said. “They not only pushed us on the court at Tellico, but they even followed me to TWU and supported me there as well, and I’ll forever be thankful for them and all they’ve done for not only myself, but the program at Tellico.”
When it came time to make a signing decision, several factors attracted Yearwood to Tennessee Wesleyan.
“The one thing that drew me to TWU the most was the people there,” Yearwood said. “I already knew most of the girls I would be playing with, so that made me feel more confident. I also toured the campus and watched several games and I liked the atmosphere in the comradery between the players.
“Most importantly, I love the location of the campus. The Lord has blessed me with being a part of a big family that supports me no matter what, so the fact that they could be at my games was most important to me.”
Another key piece to Yearwood’s recruiting puzzle was Lady Bulldogs head coach Jeff Rice. Rice, who has led TWU’s women’s team for 14 seasons, makes a point to recruit local athletes, and his efforts to sign Yearwood paid off.
“Coach Rice was very encouraging when it came to signing with TWU,” Yearwood said. “He made me feel like I could be a big asset to the team, so that made me even more excited to begin my journey at TWU.”
Challenges and support
To figure out if Yearwood had an impact for TWU in her freshman season, simply check the stats.
Yearwood played in a total of 29 games, starting eight, and averaged 17.4 minutes-per-contest. She totaled 158 points, with a 5.4 points-per-game average, 55 rebounds, 29 steals and 25 assists.
That first year, though, wasn’t free from hardship.
“My first year at TWU was great, but came with challenges,” Yearwood said. “I had a great first game, but unfortunately injured my ankle which eventually slowed me down. The players really picked me up and helped me get back to where I was.
“Our seniors were so uplifting and always made sure to pick up anyone that was down, not just me.”
As with most high-performing athletes, Yearwood wasn’t satisfied with her results in Year One. And she’s doing all she can to see her numbers improve during her sophomore season.
“I don’t feel like I performed the absolute best that I could have,” Yearwood said, “but I’ve been training really hard with my past AAU coach, Roy Pankey, and he’s helped me so much to prepare for next year.”
Chasing new dreams
Yearwood’s name has been made in county hoops. Her influence helped bring even more prominence to Tellico, and she’s hoping to do the same for TWU.
But the basketball star aspires to serve an even greater purpose: helping those in need, especially society’s youngest and most vulnerable. Her career in nursing will serve such a purpose.
One passion defines Yearwood’s past. The other will comprise her future.
“I’m doing the nursing program at TWU,” Yearwood said. “Therefore, I’m super excited about eventually becoming a neonatal nurse, where I will get to help newborns that are born and put in the NICU.
“I’m also excited about our upcoming team and the potential we have. I think everyone has been missing it, so we’re all anxious to get out there and play.”