With two positions to hire on her first staff as head coach at Tennessee, Holly Warlick looked to a former Lady Vol to fill the first one. On April 26, 2012, Kyra Elzy answered the call to return to her alma mater and serve as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator.
Elzy, an associate head coach/recruiting coordinator at the University of Kentucky for the last four years, fills the role held last season by Mickie DeMoss. The former Pat Summitt aide announced on April 2 she was leaving UT to join the WNBA's Indiana Fever.
"I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to have Kyra on our staff," Warlick said. "From the time she was a player on our NCAA title teams in 1997 and 1998, she possessed a coach's mentality on the floor. As I have watched her collegiate coaching career progress, I have become more impressed with her each stop along the way.
"Kyra is a phenomenal recruiter, possessing a great coaching mind and will complement Dean (Lockwood) and I perfectly. As a Lady Vol, she knows firsthand what our expectations are at Tennessee."
In 2011-12, Elzy completed her fourth season at Kentucky, where she served as the recruiting coordinator and was responsible for coaching the guards of the 2012 SEC champion Wildcats. It marked her second season as associate head coach after being promoted in August 2010.
"I am humbled, honored and excited for the opportunity to come back to the University of Tennessee as a coach for the Lady Vols," Elzy said.
"First, it was incredible as a student-athlete to be part of the history, tradition and legacy of the Lady Vols during my playing days. Now I am thankful for the privilege and the gift to return to the Tennessee program."
As a student-athlete at Tennessee from 1996-2001, Elzy's game excelled under the nation's all-time winningest coach in Summitt. A four-year letterwinner who actually spent five seasons in a Lady Vol uniform after missing the 1998-99 season with an injury, Elzy was a member of two national championship teams (1997 and 1998) and a national runner-up squad (2000). During her time in Knoxville, she played in 126 games and earned the Holly Warlick Defensive Player of the Year award in 1997, the Unsung Hero Award in 1998 and was on the USA Today All-Injury Team that recognized athletes that competed while overcoming medical issues in 2000.
Elzy became just the fifth freshman in Tennessee history to start her first game as a Lady Vol when she started at guard in the 1996-97 season opener against Austin Peay. She also earned another distinction during her playing career, becoming the first UT player to earn her master's degree while still playing.
Also excelling in the classroom, Elzy was named to the 2000 and 2001 SEC Academic Honor Rolls. She was a three-time member of the Lady Vol Academic Honor Roll (over a 3.0 GPA) and earned UT Dean's List honors each semester while in graduate school. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology (1999) and a master's in cultural studies in education with an emphasis in sports psychology (2001).
As a coach at Kentucky, Elzy was considered one of the top recruiters in the nation and helped UK sign a top-10 recruiting class three-straight seasons, including the signing of four McDonald's High School All-Americans.
She was instrumental in helping UK advance to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and chart back-to-back-back 20-win seasons, including two NCAA Elite 8 appearances in 2010 (losing to Oklahoma) and 2012 (losing to UConn).
Elzy's guards received SEC recognition in 2011-12, as A'dia Mathies was named the SEC Player of the Year and rookie Bria Goss was named the SEC Rookie of the Year.
Under Elzy's tutelage, Mathies received UK's first SEC Freshman of the Year honor in 2010 and was named UK's first freshman All-American since Valerie Still in 1980.
Prior to Kentucky, Elzy spent four years as an assistant coach at Kansas. As the recruiting coordinator, she helped the Jayhawks land their first top-20 signing class in 2007 under head coach Bonnie Henrickson. She also helped KU earn two postseason bids in her four seasons. In 2006-07, KU finished 17-16 overall and advanced to the third round of the WNIT, while guard Danielle McCray was named honorable mention All-Big 12.
Elzy made a coaching stop at Western Kentucky for two seasons under head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. She coordinated the recruiting efforts for the Lady Toppers and also worked with the guards and handled individual workouts. The Lady Toppers posted 20+ wins in both of her seasons at WKU, and in 2002-03 WKU won the Sun Belt Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Elzy helped coach Sun Belt Player of the Year Shala Reese and Newcomer of the Year Tiffany Porter-Talbert. In 2003-04, WKU was the Sun Belt runner-up and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT.
Prior to her first coaching job, Elzy spent one year as an administrative assistant under Henrickson at Virginia Tech. She was responsible for team travel, scheduling community service events and working with the women's basketball summer camps.
Her outstanding prep career earned her induction into the Kentucky Lions Club Hall of Fame in 2009 after a standout prep career at Oldham County High School. She had guided the Lady Colonels to four district championships, two regional titles and a state semifinal appearance during her prep career.
In addition to starting a new job at Tennessee in 2012, Elzy was wed in August to Dexter Lander.
THE ELZY FILE
Full Name: Kyra ShaNae Elzy
Birthday: August 17, 1978
Hometown: LaGrange, Ky.
High School: Oldham County High School
College: Tennessee, `01
Degrees: Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in cultural studies and education with an emphasis in sports psychology
2012-Present: Assistant Coach, Tennessee
2010-12: Associate Head Coach, Kentucky
2008-10: Assistant Coach, Kentucky
2005-08: Assistant Coach, Kansas
2003-04: Assistant Coach, Western Kentucky
2002-03: Administrative Assistant, Virginia Tech