Coach Kyra Elzy’s season may be over, but her respectable first showing as a head coach is still earning her accolades. On Monday, Elzy was named the Spalding Maggie Dixon NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) March 31, 2021
Although the Wildcats came up short in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Coach Elzy led the Wildcats to an 18-9 record, the most in program history by a first-year head coach. Furthermore, she did it against the odds.
Elzy was named Kentucky’s interim head coach on November 12th after former head coach Matthew Mitchell unexpectedly retired due to health issues. To put this timeline in perspective, Kentucky played their first game only 13 days later against Murray State.
Trying to fill the shoes of Kentucky Women’s Basketball’s winningest coach of all time is a tall task under any timeline. Nevertheless, Elzy stepped up to the challenge. Here’s what WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew had to say about Elzy.
“Success in your first year as a head coach is a difficult feat under the best of circumstances, but Kyra was successful despite unexpectedly taking over a Kentucky program in the midst of a very emotional situation.”
“We celebrate her effectiveness on the basketball court as a teacher and equally applaud the extensive role she plays in impacting the lives of her student-athletes.”
Donehew wasn’t the only one to give some complimentary thoughts on Elzy. Spalding VP and General Manager Matt Murphy spoke on the rookie head coach, as well.
“Coach Elzy exemplifies the leadership, mentorship and dedication to excellence that this award is about both on and off the court. We wish Coach Elzy and all of the student-athletes she inspires continued success.”
With only two players not returning from this season’s Kentucky roster for next year, Elzy will certainly have another good chance at success. She will be able to utilize star Rhyne Howard and the supporting cast in new ways after having a season to learn the ins-and-outs of being a head coach.
Elzy’s first year as a head coach may not have been perfect, but it was a great start. If Elzy develops her team and herself this offseason, she may be winning many more awards come this time next year.