High school sports are integral to the fabric of any small town - and the Sisters Outlaws are definitely woven deeply into the Sisters community. And for the past 16 years, those sports programs have been the beat of Rongi Yost.

Yost doesn't remember exactly how she ended up being a sports reporter. Back in 2002, she had a daughter playing soccer, and The Nugget didn't have anyone covering soccer. She thought the girls would like to see some coverage, and somehow - probably through some gently arm-twisting by Editor Jim Cornelius - she ended up with the gig.

Without meaning to, she had become a freelance reporter.

"I did some feature stories," she recalled, "but sports kept snowballing."

Yost covers football, baseball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse. She doesn't have a favorite - at least not one she'll admit to - but she does have a favorite aspect of the work across the board:

"My favorite part is talking to the kids, she said.

The excitement builds "when they get to the playoffs, when they make it that far and every game counts. There's a lot of families and kids (at games) and there's a lot of excitement and anticipation... That's very fun."

She loves "talking to the kids after the game, when they've made it that one step further."

Yost notes that Sisters has produced some remarkable athletic achievements, like Joey Morgan being drafted by the Detroit Tigers. Many, many Outlaws have won scholarships and continued to play their sport at a college level.

"I think it's incredible," she said.

She also really enjoys seeing programs grow and improve.

"The wrestling program was almost non-existent when I started writing," she said. "And now that program has really grown. Every year, it seems like they're taking it a step further."

Yost moved here from Rogue River with her husband, David, in 2000. The family was friends with the Sweeneys, who had come to Sisters and started a plumbing business, and David worked for a time as their office manager. Rongi needed to work, too, and she secured a job with the Sisters School District as a paraprofessional.

David is now a pastor and a contractor, and Rongi continues to work at Sisters High School.

"I assist in the classroom," she said.

The school job makes her Nugget work easier.

"It's such an easy opportunity for me to just grab kids in the hall (for an interview)," she said.

Yost says she plans to keep covering sports for The Nugget - which is good news for Cornelius.

"Rongi is invaluable," he said. "It's tough chasing down coaches and players and pulling that many stories together on a deadline. With multiple sports, she's really busy, usually on weekends. Those sports stories really matter to the athletes and their parents, and I appreciate her dedication to getting them in week in and week

out."

Yost gets a welcome break during the summer, when school's out and it's time to travel. Soon enough, she'll be writing about the first Outlaws football practices of the 2018/2019 season...