Kiyo Yamamoto

Kiyo Yamamoto is a familiar face at the Newman Fall Festival, especially among the volleyball enthusiasts, as this will be her 32nd year organizing the annual tournament. But this year she will have one more additional duty for the event — serving as grand marshal for the event’s parade.

“I’m so excited for this,” Yamamoto said of her upcoming grand marshal duty. “I was just blown away when they told me I had been picked this year.”

Yamamoto has had quite an impact on the Westside sports’ scene, particularly in recreation leagues, since moving to town after graduating from Patterson High School in 1972. She’s a natural athlete that always felt the drive to compete, but there were very few options for her growing up.

“In high school there were all these different sports, but they all said they were for boys only,” Yamamoto said. “It was in September 1972, after I had graduated that they said they had to have sports for girls as well.”

When her daughters were old enough and started showing an interest in sports, Yamamoto made sure there were plenty of opportunities for them, as well as other children and eventually adults in the area.

Yamamoto was the driving force in getting a T-ball league started in 1984 and re-started a girls’ softball league in the 1990s. She has been involved with girls’ basketball and co-ed volleyball leagues. 

She took an early interest in the Newman Fall Festival, organizing the horseshoe and women’s softball tournaments in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She really enjoyed the sport of volleyball and has made it a key part of the Newman Fall Festival.

“I just enjoy seeing all the people out there on the volleyball courts having fun,” Yamamoto said. “I know they must be having fun because they come back year after year.”

Yamamoto also turned the community’s love of volleyball into a worthy fundraiser for breast cancer.

In addition to all of the activities she organized, Yamamoto ran a successful daycare business for 40 years before retiring recently. She’s also active in the Westside Tennis Club, the Red Hat Society, Our Lady of Roses and the Newman Fire Auxiliary.

“I really live to stay involved and keeping busy,” Yamamoto said. “My mother always said to keep moving and stay busy; that being busy is a good thing. She lived to be 97, so she must have known what she was talking about.”

The Newman Fall Festival is scheduled for Sept. 2-5.