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Lady cat coach

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By Mickey Patterson

LEXINGTON – The skinny kid that used to reel in rebounds and score points by the bushel for Oldham County High School is hoping to do the same for recruiting for the University of Kentucky.Kyra Elzy, a 1996 OCHS graduate, was named as the recruiting coordinator/assistant coach with the UK women’s basketball program May 16. She rejoins UK coach Matthew Mitchell, who coached at the University of Tennessee when Elzy played there.“Coach Mitchell and I had a great relationship when he was on staff at Tennessee,” Elzy said. “I just thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get closer to home and to help build an SEC program.”Elzy had a stellar high school career leading the Lady Colonels to a pair of regional titles and a final four appearance in the state tourney in addition to being the program’s all-time leading scorer with 3,015 points.After graduation from OCHS as one of the top high school players in the country, she played at UT, where she was a member of two national championship teams and one runner-up under legendary coach Pat Summitt. As she did at OCHS, Elzy made history in college becoming just the fifth freshman starter in the program’s history. She was a two-time All Southeastern Conference Academic first team selection and the first player in Tennessee history to earn a master’s degree while playing. She earned a master’s degree in cultural studies in education with an emphasis in sports psychology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology.Since graduation, Elzy has spent the past seven years building a career as one of the top recruiters in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.After a year at Virginia Tech, she spent two years at Western Kentucky and the past four at the University of Kansas, where she helped Kansas land its first top 20 recruiting class.Elzy is a hot commodity in the coaching ranks. Since first proving herself at WKU, she’s received job offers from the University of Louisville and from UK during Mickie DeMoss’ tenure as head coach.Just after accepting her UK job, she received an offer from Tennessee to work with Summitt.“I am definitely going to be at UK,” Elzy said. “I learned growing up with my family when you make a commitment to something you stick with it. The chance to go to UT was very tempting, but the timing just wasn’t right.”At UK, Elzy comes to a program that was 17-16 last season closing strong with a pair of wins in the NIT.Elzy started work immediately as she did in her previous jobs, living and loving the hectic lifestyle of a basketball recruiter.

“I have hit the ground running and am still running,” Elzy said. “I got here the first morning, was in the office for about six hours and then got on the road.“It’s a very crazy lifestyle and very rewarding at the same time. It’s funny to think your livelihood depends on your ability to convince a 17-year-old kid to come to your university.”Elzy said she often draws on her own experiences as a high school player who was recruited by top collegiate programs from across the country.“I have been on both sides and know how crazy and how overwhelming it can be,” Elzy said. “I always try to think back on what impressed me and what didn’t work when I am recruiting a kid.”Elzy said the tradition of the men’s program at UK and the rising reputation of the women’s program has made her job a bit easier on road. She also said she is still content working as an assistant.“I never expected to be a basketball coach at all and just kind of fell into it and fell in love with it,” Elzy said. “As far as being a head coach, I guess if the right opportunity comes around, yes. But, based on the programs I have been with as a player and a coach it would have to be someplace established where I felt like I could be successful.”Elzy’s family lives in La Grange and she said the proximity to Lexington will give her chances to get home for visits and to see her nephew, Eric Dunlap, an upcoming senior at OCHS, play for the first time.At present, she is busy on the summer camp circuit recruiting the best players from the state and the nation to come to UK.“When I first put that Kentucky shirt on it was special,” Elzy said. “I feel like I have endless resources to work with and the history and tradition around here sells itself.”As for predicting her success at UK, Elzy said she thinks she’ll do a good job, and her hard work will show soon enough.“Ask me again in November after signing day,” she joked.

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