Former Saint Mary’s men’s soccer player Andrew “Roo” Yori graduated with a degree in biology in 1999. He was selected as the Outstanding Male Senior during his time at Saint Mary’s. Yori has worked with homeless dogs for more than a decade, even going as far as to create his own foundation, Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation, where he is the founder and CEO. He has been featured in local, national, and international media outlets for his work and accomplishments with adopted dogs. He and his dog, Wallace the Pit Bull, became national and international Frisbee dog team champions, which led to a bestselling novel “Wallace” by New York Times Best Selling author Jim Gorant.
Yori currently resides in Rochester, Minn., and is a clinical lab technologist in the Next Generation Sequencing lab at the Mayo Clinic.
Q: You started the Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation. Tell me about Wallace’s story and what led you to start the foundation?
AY: Wallace was a shelter dog that was being targeted for euthanasia. My wife (Clara Setzer ’01) and I adopted him and discovered he really liked to catch Frisbees. We found out there were competitions for the activity, so we started to compete. Within a few years, Wallace was a national and world champion. Wallace was often the only pit bull at the competition back then, so it was cool to show people he was a dog just like all the rest of them. Wallace passed away in 2013, but gathered a lot of fans over the years. Considering there are still millions of dogs living in shelters across the country, I wanted to leverage Wallace’s audience to continue to help those in need. We started the Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation to continue to promote adoption and responsible dog ownership as well as to keep Wallace’s name and story going for years to come.
Q: What were the steps you took to start the foundation?
AY: The big thing to starting the foundation was getting through the paperwork. Fortunately, I had some friends that had been through the process before and were able to help me out. We recently launched a new website, and now we’re starting to build a volunteer base to help deal with all the daily activities. I’m excited, and really looking forward to growing the organization.
Q: I see you currently are involved in CrossFit and Hammer Race. What is Hammer Race and what made you get involved in that type of fitness?
AY: The Hammer Race is an obstacle race where each racer needs to carry a minimum 8-pound sledgehammer throughout the course. And yes, you do get used to it. My friend, Joshua Grenell, came up with the idea. Adam Waters, Josh Weigel, and myself joined him in the business venture to help make it happen. It’s a pretty awesome race that takes some people by surprise, but they also surprise themselves when they cross the finish line and can hold their hammers high with a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s CrossFit, the Hammer Race or whatever, I think it’s good to challenge yourself. The more things you can expose yourself to, the better you become and the better you can handle other challenges that come into your life. It empowers people and tends to carry over into other aspects of their lives, so I love being able to offer that opportunity to those interested.
Q: Any advice for current student-athletes at Saint Mary’s?
AY: If you expect to perform on game day, put in the work off the field. This applies to everything, not just sports. We’re exposed to so much today through social media. We see people posting all of their successes, and it often seems like it all happens so easily. What we don’t see typically is the minimum 5-10 years of work they put in before becoming an “overnight success.” What we don’t see are the failures that occur which teach them how to capitalize on the opportunities when they present themselves. So don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Train, experiment, fail, learn—so when your “game days” come, you’ll be ready.