The National Basketball Association season is getting under way, and for Arkansas City native Dr. Corey Yeager, that means a change of scenery.
Yeager is a life coach and psychotherapist for the Detroit Pistons.
Yeager, a 1987 Ark City High School grad, began his career in the NBA two years ago, offering “behind-the-scenes therapeutic support” for the Toronto Raptors.
He began working for the Pistons last season as a psychological consultant, which led to a full-time position this season.
“My grandmother, Georgia Jordan, always told me that if I had a dream, to write it down and place it in my Bible,” Yeager said. “Ten years ago, I did just that. So my dream of working in the NBA has been a long sought-after dream that I have been diligently working toward and now am seeing it come to fruition.”
Yeager was on the last Bulldogs football team to play in a State championship game. After graduation, he played football for two years at Butler, where his oldest son, Izaiah, currently is following in his steps as a member of the Grizzlies.
The elder Yeager was a two-year starter for the Grizzlies, and a two-year All Conference first-team offensive lineman.
“I was a one-sport kid, focusing my athletic endeavors solely in football,” said Yeager, who received 31 Division I offers from across the U.S., including Kansas, Kansas State, Florida, Utah State, Indiana and Kentucky. He chose Long Beach (Calif.) State, where he continued his stellar career as a two-year starter while earning All-Big West Conference honors both years as a lineman.
He worked out with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams as a free agent, but was not offered a contract.
“Following my football playing career, I moved to Minnesota, where I met my wife, Carrie,” he said. “We have been married for 20 years and have three sons: Izaiah, 19, Zachary, 16 and Azrie, 13. We have since added another adopted son, Terrance, 16.”
Yeager would rather discuss the athletic exploits of his kids than his own. Zachary plays quarterback and Terrance is a running back, while Azrie plays linebacker. Their father is a coach on the Minneapolis-North High School team that compiled an 11-1 record last season.
“The boys are the top quarterback-running back tandem in the state of Minnesota,” Yeager said. “Azrie is a standout linebacker in one of the top 14U football programs in the country. The boys keep Carrie and I busy with football and basketball.”
Yeager earned his master’s degree in psychotherapy, then went on to earn a PhD from the University of Minnesota.
“This doctorate has been a vital aspect of my work with the NBA and the Detroit Pistons,” he said.
Yeager lives in an apartment supplied by the Pistons during the season. However, since the NBA season overlaps high school football season, some details had to be ironed out.
“When I negotiated my contract, one request I had from my middle son, Zachary, was that I be present at all of his Friday night football games. I have coached him as a QB all the years that he has played and have never missed a game,” Yeager said. “With that, I requested that the team fly me home to Minnesota each Friday during the football season so as to continue to be present for his games. The Pistons graciously agreed to accommodate my scheduling needs.”
In addition to his high school coaching duties, Yeager stayed busy as the Director of Educational Equity within the Minneapolis Public School System while still maintaining a practice.
“As a therapist, I have a private practice focused on supporting adolescents and their families through the tough teen years,” he said.
As the NBA season approaches, Yeager will shift into his new duties with the Pistons.
“In this role my main focus is to find innovative ways in which to support players with issues that may come up for them — issues including marital struggles, raising children, managing finances, developing clarity for players’ team roles, mediation of relational issues that may arise and a wide range of other concerns that come up,” he said. “As the life coach, I am an additional coach on the staff focused on coaching players through the hurdles and obstacles of life.”