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 initial 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 from 2008-12, came back to Knoxville to fill a vacancy created when Mickie DeMoss joined the staff of the WNBA's Indiana Fever.
It didn't take long for the UT alumnus to make a difference for the Big Orange. She helped Tennessee reel in the No. 3 signing class in the country in 2012, including a pair of McDonald's High School All-Americans (Jordan Reynolds, Mercedes Russell) and the nation's No. 1 and No. 8 players in Russell and Jannah Tucker.
She also contributed to a 2012-13 Lady Vol season that exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone. After Tennessee was picked to finish as low as fifth in the conference and preseason No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, a young squad won the program's 17th SEC regular-season championship and fashioned a 27-8 record while advancing as far as the NCAA Elite Eight.
As a successful role model on campus, Elzy was chosen as the 2013 keynote speaker for UT's fifth-annual Multicultural Student Symposium. She also was honored as the Lady Vols' SEC Legend during the 2013 conference tournament in Duluth, Ga.
Year two at Tennessee saw the program boost its record to 29-6 and win the 2014 SEC Tournament, marking the conference-best 17th time the Lady Vols had captured postseason league hardware. With Elzy coordinating efforts, the Lady Vols also landed the nation's No. 6 signing class, anchored by McDonald's All-Americans Jaime Nared and Alexa Middleton.
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.
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 that August to Dexter Lander.