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Spotlight on Past Ely Sports Hall of Fame Members: Yvonne (Vidmar) Bach

by Mike Turnbull

The deadline is looming for nominating candidates for the Ely Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2024. Nominations have to be received by March 1.

The ESHOF Committee will be meeting later in March to choose the Class of 2024 from the nominations that have been received. You can find a nomination form by going to the Ely All-Class Reunion website at www.elyallclassreunion.com and clicking on the nomination form. There has also been copies that have appeared in the Ely Echo.

When nominating, keep in mind that nominees have to be graduates of Ely high school from 1980-2009. Provide as much information as possible. Graduate year, sports played, individual and team accolades.

Nominations can be emailed to Tom Coombe at the Ely Echo tcoombe@aol.com, mailed to or dropped off at the Ely Echo in care of Tom Coombe. The Ely Echo, 15 East Chapman Street, Ely, MN 55731. Tom is not a voting member of the ESHOF Committee, he will forward all nominations to the committee for their consideration. Again, nominations need to be received by March 1 to be considered.

This week the ESHOF Spotlight on past Hall Of Fame members turns to Yvonne (Vidmar) Bach. Yvonne graduated from Ely Memorial in 1979 and was named to the ESHOF Class of 1996 representing the 1970s.

Yvonne is one of six females currently in the ESHOF. The other five are Esther Porthan Nixon a swimmer in the 1930s and Charlene (Maki) Harkins, Gretchen (Scheuer) Bensen, Jayne (Kunstel) Dusich and Sherry Hill; all multi-sport athletes from the 1970s. Yvonne’s older brother Paul (1975 Graduate) is also a member of the ESHOF Class of 1996.

Yvonne played volleyball for Julie (Nystrom) Palombi and basketball for Coach Nystrom and eventually Carol (Hande) Peterson. Coach Nystrom passed away in 2020. In the fall of 1979 Yvonne moved on to Vermilion Community College and played volleyball for Devvie Cersine and basketball for Tom Wavrin.

“Actually my start in organized athletics in Ely started with youth softball which is ironic because we never had softball at the high school when I attended. I played for the Blue Bombers and Mrs. Schaper was our coach. Her daughter Barb was one of my teammates.

“Volleyball and basketball were added to the athletics available to girls while I was in school. I got to play with some great girls and we had a lot of fun doing it. There were several very good athletes in school.

“The older girls like Cindy Zupancich, Beth Braun, Chris Grahek, Gretchen Scheuer, Jackie Jensen and Jean Bauman. Girls in my own class included Sherry Hill, Julie Lindholm Jolyn Murphy and Sandy Yadlosky.

“We were very supportive of each other and most of us were in more than one sport. The boys in school were also supportive. I think we were just excited to have our own girls’ teams. It was an honor to be a part of those first teams and didn’t have to just watch our older brothers play.

“In our third season of existence we won the District 27 Championship in basketball. I can’t confirm this, but I think we were undefeated at home during all of my basketball years.

“When I was younger Mr. Marsnik and Mr. Scheuer started the Saturday morning elementary basketball program but it was just for boys. After we got girls’ basketball at the high school we started having elementary basketball. Our whole team was there every Saturday. It was fun to teach and coach the game we were so excited to play.

“Playing at Vermilion was fun also. We won the State and Regional titles in volleyball and got to play in the NJCAA National Tournament in Miami, FL. The people of Ely were supportive and helped pay for our trip out there. We also had a send-off at the college and a lot of people from town attended.

“After my first year at VCC Jody Bach (Note: Jody was a 1979 Ely grad and outstanding baseball player) and I got married and moved to the base in Millington, TN.

“Jody had to attend some Naval school in Key West, FL so while he was there I came home and finished two more quarters at VCC. Between 1982 and 1984 we did brief duties in Alameda, CA, Hawaii and Guam. When we were in Guam I took one more class from the University of Guam to finish my A.S. from Vermilion.

“My athletic life came full cycle and I was able to play women’s and mixed softball as an adult. Because of health issues Jody transferred back to the base in Tennessee. I still live near the Naval Support Activity Mid-South Naval Base and work at the commissary.

“We raised two children and have two grandchildren that I love spending time with and watching grow up. Sadly, Jody passed in 2012. I still have some relatives in Ely but I haven’t been back to Ely for about eight years. I try to keep tabs through the Ely Echo and What’s Up Ely.”

Reminder: ESHOF Class of 2024 Nominations must be received by Friday March 1. You can find a nomination form on the Ely All-Class Reunion website at www.elyallclassreunion.com. Click on the ESHOF Nomination Form box.

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