ABOVE: Pasadena Star-News Athletes of the Year Stevie Yortsos (San Marino) and Courtney McCutchan (La Canada) pose at San Marino High School. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Birmingham)
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
Perhaps for the first time ever, San Marino High School’s Stevie Yortsos and La Caada’s Courtney McCutchan find themselves with too much free time on their hands.
Yortsos and McCutchan long for the days filled with busy itineraries when the only free time available was during timeouts and water breaks.
It’s how life has been for the standout athletes, who personify the true meaning of sportsmanship. For their academic and athletic accomplishments, Yortsos and McCutchan are the 2009-2010 Star-News Athletes of the Year.
Yortsos was a three-sport athlete all four years at San Marino. He earned the captaincy in football, soccer and baseball because he knew how to lead by example. And it’s not like Yortsos just played those sports, he excelled in every facet of the game, quickly becoming the go-to guy as a wide receiver and defensive back, lightning-quick midfielder and clutch-hitting second baseman.
Yortsos earned Star-News All-Area first-team honors in football. He was limited to five games during soccer season because he had to undergo surgery on his right wrist after breaking his scaphoid bone while landing awkwardly during a football game. He continued to play, leading San Marino to a 9-3 season and an exciting second-place finish in league after beating a pesky Temple City team and reaching the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
Yortsos required a bone graph from his hip to fix his wrist, but in five games with the Titans’ soccer team he still managed to score four goals and had three assists.
He didn’t join his teammates on the baseball team until a week into Rio Hondo League competition. Still, he managed to earn first-team all-league honors after batting .448 with five doubles, two triples and a home run in 10 games.
Yortsos arguably was at his best his junior year, when he earned Star-News All-Area first-team honors in all three sports.
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“If it wasn’t for his injury, I’m sure he would have repeated the performance,” San Marino baseball coach Mack Paciorek said.
The hardest part for Yortsos, however, wasn’t that he couldn’t repeat the feat.
“The hardest part was watching and knowing I could have helped my team,” Yortsos said.
Because he was wearing a hard cast, Yortsos wasn’t cleared to rejoin the soccer team. He was forced to watch from the sidelines and help with coaching duties.
Yortsos will attend USC this fall, majoring in engineering. He said he plans to walk onto the football team his sophomore year.
It’s not a farfetched dream. Yortsos’ speed, athleticism and determination are to his advantage.
“I promised myself I’d at least try it once,” said Yortsos, who added that he won’t rule out trying baseball, too.
Yortsos, who finished with a 3.8 GPA, said balancing school work, a social life and sports wasn’t that big a juggling act.
“I actually wished I could have played basketball,” he said. “That’s one thing I wish I could have done here, because basketball is fun.”
McCutchan was just as impressive and determined. The two-sport athlete was a dominant force as a forward on the basketball team and a powerful weapon as an outside hitter on the Spartans’ volleyball team en route to earning Star-News All-Area first-team honors in both sports.
In her senior year of basketball, McCutchan earned all-tournament honors in every tournament, led the team in scoring and blocked shots, and was second in rebounds and assists. She led La Caada to an undefeated league season, a 24-4 overall record and a second- round appearance in the CIF- Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.
She earned first-team All-Rio Hondo League and All-CIF honors in volleyball, was voted onto the MaxPreps All-California State Team and was named a Prep Volleyball High School Academic All-American. She led the team in kills and aces and was second in digs.
The team captain led the Spartans to an undefeated league season, a 26-8 overall record, the CIF-SS Division 2A championship match (which they lost to Elsinore) and the quarterfinals of the CIF State Division 2 playoffs. She was voted CIF Division 2A Player of the Year.
McCutchan also won two national championships on the club volleyball circuit, including in her first competitive year, as a seventh-grader with San Gabriel Valley Elite. She also earned three junior Olympic medals, and represented California and USA Volleyball for four years as captain of the SCVA High Performance Team. She also has competed in Europe the past two summers.
It’s no surprise, then, that McCutchan parlayed her success into a full ride at Lehigh University.
It is a surprise, however, that McCutchan’s first love was basketball, which she began playing at 4.
“But when I joined volleyball, I just loved the challenge of playing the sport,” she said.
McCutchan, who finished with a 3.9 GPA and also played softball on the JV level her freshman and sophomore seasons, will major in business at Lehigh.
McCutchan, who seems to have accomplished just about everything she’s set out to do, has another goal in mind – coaching.
“I’m just grateful for all the accomplishments,” she said. “This honor is a great ending to four years of sports.”
A great ending, indeed.