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Elaine Elliott may have retired from head coaching, but she still makes tough decisions.
Every day, in fact.
Only now it's not whether to go small or big against an opponent. The questions are more along the lines of: Road bike, or mountain?
Since retiring from Utah in 2011 after a yearlong leave of absence in which Athletic Director Chris Hill asked her to reconsider, Elliott has kept busy outdoors during the summer months and gotten her basketball fix as an assistant coach at Westminster.
And that was the right move, she said.
"The gig at Westminster keeps me on the court, but not running a program, not being in charge of a Division I program. The lifestyle and the stress, I was through with that."
Elliott said 55 might not seem old, but 27 years of head coaching and 31 years in the same place takes a toll even when you are winning.
"You don't want to wear your welcome out," she said. "Many people probably thought I already had."
If that's so, those folks are tough judges. Elliott had exactly one losing season during her time at the U. none in conference. Fifteen times, she led Utah to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2006 the Utes were a missed free throw away from the Final Four.
Elliott said she doesn't think of that overtime loss to eventual champions Maryland as any kind of missed opportunity.
"It haunts my friends more than me," she said. "It does not haunt me, and it never did, interestingly. Everything was good. There was nothing about that, in retrospect, that felt like we didn't do as much as we could have."
Just about every player ever to play women's basketball at the U., Elliott knows. Most, she knows well, and some she has formed close friendships with. She still checks in with current head coach and former assistant Anthony Levrets, but "it's his gig, and needs to be," she said. "… I'm not wishing I could do something, that I'm more involved."
Echoing the other six individuals entering the Crimson Club Hall of Fame on Friday night, Elliott said she didn't set out to become a Hall of Famer, and she is honored to be able to share it with her family.
"It kind of is that special extra occurrence that really makes you realize how lucky you are," she said.
We recently caught up with fellow inductees Andre Miller, Kevin Dyson, Kim Turner, Sandy Woolsey and Amy Kofoed and members of the 1964 Liberty Bowl football team in advance of Friday's induction ceremony.
Long before the Music City Miracle, when Kevin Dyson caught a lateral from Frank Wycheck and returned it 75 yards to lift the Tennessee Titans to a wildcard victory over Buffalo in 2000, the Clearfield product had shown a flair for the dramatic.
Dyson said he was moving a few years ago when he came across a video of the 1994 Freedom Bowl. When he popped it in the VCR and watched his game-winning grab of Mike McCoy's desperation, fourth-quarter heave, he felt like a skinny redshirt freshman all over again, he said.
"I looked like a little kid, and I'm a grown man now with gray hairs, but man, it's funny how time flies."
Dyson now serves as vice principal and athletic director at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, Tenn., and does radio work for the Titans. A 9 to 5 allows him to spend time with his young children, but he eventually wants to be a full-time coach.
"It's just in my blood," he said. "I just love coaching."
It must be. His brother, Andre, took over head coaching duties this year for Clearfield, and Kevin watches tape to compare notes. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will cause Kevin to miss his brother's game against Layton on Friday, but he was excited to watch his nephew Jalen play Thursday night against Highland.
1964 Liberty Bowl team
Given that Utah had one bowl victory in 55 years, it's a quirk of history that Utah won the first major college football game ever played indoors and the first broadcast nationwide.
That happened on December 19, 1964, when Ray Nagel's Utes beat West Virginia 32-6 at the same Atlantic City Convention Hall where Lyndon Johnson kicked off his successful presidential campaign the year prior.
The entire team will be inducted into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame on Friday only the second full team to earn that honor, after the 1943-44 championship-winning basketball team.
"It's the greatest," said Roy Jefferson, who went on to become an NFL All-Pro wide receiver after playing offense, defense and even kicking at the U. "Absolute greatest thing."
There were many reunions between old friends and jokes about who could still do what at the University Park Marriott on Thursday, as former teammates ran into each other in the hallways.
Then-assistant coach Lynn Stiles, who played for the U. prior to his two-year stint on the sidelines, went on to be head coach at San Jose and spend almost three decades as an assistant and front office worker in the NFL.
"But I don't think I can recall any team that I was more proud of than that Liberty Bowl team," he said.
Stiles now works overseas, helping youth and adult football coaches throughout Europe learn the fine points of the game. Jefferson retired a few years back after working in mortgaging, insurance, and owning a chain of three barbecue restaurants.
He now lives in Virginia, "on a fixed income," he said with a laugh. "I wish it was as fixed as some of those NFL wide receivers today, but it isn't."
The Tribune plans to do a more in-depth look at the 1964 team in December, on the anniversary of the bowl.
She was once third in the U.S. National Team rankings, and later a five-time All-American and uneven bars NCAA champion at Utah.
But until recently, Sandy Woolsey's park ranger co-workers knew her as the quirky woman who sometimes randomly performs handstands.
Having once been a world-class gymnast "is not an easy thing you work into conversation," said Woolsey on Thursday from the University Park Marriott, where she and teammates once exuberantly celebrated Utah's 1994 championship. Since it was announced that she would be inducted to the Crimson Club Hall of Fame, she joked, she has flashed her championship ring once or twice.
Woolsey worked for a while as a coach, and then took up beekeeping go figure. After working with park rangers while a receptionist for Highlands Ranch Metro District, she decided to become a ranger herself.
It's not wholly dissimilar from gymnastics, she said.
"The hours are early, sometimes they're late. Teaching programs, you're always on the go, alert for whether it's for medical emergencies or assists to fire department or police department. We are always on the go, and that's very much like gymnastics."
One difference: While as a gymnast, she was eager to please, she's now in the role of telling people to, say, leash their dogs. And that's OK, she said. The law's the law, and she doesn't have to doubt herself because she's the one wearing the badge.
It took 20 years, but Utah's women's soccer team finally has a member of the Crimson Club Hall of Fame.
"Better late than never," said Amy Kofoed, who is Utah's all-time leading goals (46) and points (108) scorer and helped the team win a share of its first-ever Mountain West title in 1999.
But despite those credentials, Kofoed never imagined herself a hall of famer, she said.
She now works as the director of logistics for Suncrest Solar in Salt Lake City, a residential solar installation company, and when she received a phone call from Director of Athletic Relations Manny Hendrix telling her she was to be inducted, "I just put the phone down and had to sit there for a minute, and everybody kind of looked at me like, 'Are you OK?'"
Kofoed said she still follows the team, which is made easy due to the alumni outreach efforts of head coach Rich Manning, and she still plays, too.
Since graduating from the U. after four standout seasons, Kofoed has played on the same indoor coed team for the last 13 years, she said.
Kim Turner's list of accomplishments at the U. is long AVCA All-American, two-time MWC Co-Player of the Year, graduating as all-time leader in kills (1,620) and total blocks (670).
Much, much shorter is her list of limiting injuries.
Somehow, despite falling off a horse one offseason and having her hand shut in a minivan door by head coach Beth Launiere during the weekend of MWC championships, she never missed a practice at the U.
That always flummoxed Launiere, Turner said.
"I was very clumsy, and we always laughed about that," she said. "… I just had this bubble around me."
Turner, now a mom of kids ages 6, 4 and 6 months old in San Antonio, said she still emails her old coach "to check up on if they're still beating BYU," and she remains close friends with former teammates, like college roommate Jackie Morrill.
"I have lasting friendships with many of them, which is neat. That's what Utah kind of provided."