Pirates Profile: Willie Yarbary
By: Peter Roseman
February 9, 2021
Willie Yarbary is preparing for his second season as a defensive lineman for the Pirates. And if his performance in The Spring League (November 2020) is any indication, he’s ready to go. Last Fall, the San Antonio Conquerors called Yarbary and gave him an opportunity to improve his game. Two days after receiving the offer, he took a “leap of faith” and arrived in the great state of Texas. Yarbary played just three games for the Conquerors but made his time on the field count by posting an interception, a fumble recovery, and a handful of sacks.
Recently, I spoke with Yarbary. We talked at length about his family and upbringing, his football journey, and the off-season. In this edition of ‘Pirates Profile” we’ll learn there’s much more to number ninety-five than what we’ve seen on the football field.
Family is a “Big thing to me,” Yarbary revealed during our conversation. Growing up in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, life lessons and morals such as leadership, hard work, and resiliency were instilled at a young age. As a boy, Yarbary was aware of the pressure to perform academically so he worked hard, striving for excellence. Looking back on his childhood he is so thankful for these values and morals that led to his independence. Yarbary freely admitted his determination to succeed and accomplish goals is a direct result of his upbringing.
“Mom, Dad, and Grandfather are the reasons why I’m a man today.”
In regards to football, Yarbary gives his father, who first got his son involved, a lot of credit. While it may be difficult to believe, Yarbary was initially scared to play the sport. Through encouragement and experience he soon developed a love for the game. Yarbary also points to his father as his biggest supporter, which is a motivating factor in his drive and determination. At the same time, his father is his biggest critic, but Yarbary understands it all comes from the right place. At the end of the day Yarbary is aware that more than anyone, his father is most proud of his son.
A conversation about growing up in Augusta, Georgia wouldn’t be complete without at least one question about golf. Sure enough Yarbary knows all about Augusta National, where the Masters Tournament is played every April. In high school, he got a chance to work at ‘The Masters’ in both his junior and senior years. As a junior, Yarbary’s main job while on the graveyard shift was preparing egg salad sandwiches for the next day. As a senior, his responsibilities included patrolling the golf course and cleaning up. In this new position, through a friend who managed the locker room, Yarbary got the chance to meet several professional golfers including Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson. Working the famous golf tournament is a job he’s never forgotten. Yarbary shrugged off the beauty of Augusta.
“When you’re born around something, it’s not really pretty because it’s your own backyard,” he says. I nod in agreement, but joke about how I’d be thrilled to get a shot at cleaning up trash at Augusta National.
Yarbary and I also talked about his college football experience. After nearly committing to play for Indiana, Yarbary decided on Wake Forest, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Aside from football, the school offered an excellent education, still important to Yarbary and his parents. Football was to be a big part of college life, but he was also committed to earning a degree. In addition, being less than four hours from Augusta, Yarbary knew his family wouldn’t have to drive too long for Demon Deacon home games. He looked back fondly on his time in college and credits most of his football knowledge to what he learned at Wake Forest.
“It’s where you really grow, they fine tune you,” he said of playing at the Division 1 level.
Yarbary realized early in his college career he’d made the right choice. He liked his teammates, some of whom he still calls friends today, and respected the coaching staff. This combination spurred his team to train hard from season to season and the consistent hard work paid off. By the time Yarbary was a senior he’d played in three consecutive bowl games, winning them all. When asked about his favorite college game ever, Yarbary recalls a 2017 match-up against North Carolina State.
It was an electric atmosphere on November 18th as a favored 19th ranked State visited Winston-Salem. A classic gridiron battle ensued. Late in the fourth quarter Wake Forest maintained a slim six-point lead. Yarbary’s team was on the verge of an upset, maybe the biggest win of the season, if they could make one final defensive stand. State took control of the ball and began what they hoped to be a last minute game-winning drive. They managed to get inside the fifty yard line with time running out. From about the thirty-five yard line, State’s quarterback dropped back to pass and threw for the end zone. The ball went up and was intercepted by the Deacs as time expired. The final score, 30-24, was a huge win for Wake Forest. College football at its best!
Now in the offseason, while away from football, Yarbary keeps himself busy. He is the co-owner of a security company. It’s purpose is to provide a safe and comfortable environment during night club hours. When he’s not attending to his company he is involved in mentoring children. Recently, he joined forces with a program known as CHINS (Children in Need of Services). One of Yarbary’s main focuses with children is keeping them off the streets and out of jail. He sees himself as an inspiring asset to his community.
With Spring around the corner, Yarbary spends extra time training and preparing for the Pirates upcoming season. One of his close friends owns a 40,000 square foot gym complex in Augusta known as ‘MTAG Sports Complex (More Than a Game).’ After finishing his own workouts, Yarbary enthusiastically oversees personal training and group classes at the complex. Sometimes he even jumps into personal training sessions himself.
“If you have knowledge, why not be an asset to others?” he says. It’s just his way.
In between training for the upcoming season and working, Yarbary sets time aside to be with his family. He is indeed an inspiration to his family, community, and now, the Pirates organization.
IFL offenses you’ve been warned. This season, Willie Yarbary will be coming for you. He’ll be ready. Will you?
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard