New Black female UK head coach one of seven in SEC

Courtesy of Twitter UK Interim HC Kyra Elzy with her family in front of a statue of her former coach, Pat Summitt

Kyra Elzy’s Kentucky women’s basketball team is off to a good start (2-0) in her first season as interim head coach. She is one of seven Black HCs this season in the SEC, all Black females. 

 “November 12 will be one of those days that I will never forget,” Elzy told reporters November 13, including the MSR, as she was introduced in her new position a day after former coach Matthew Mitchell stepped down after 13 years because of health concerns.

 “I always dreamed of taking over for Coach Mitchell,” admitted Elzy. “I never quite imagined it like this.”

Asked about being a part of the growing number of Black female college basketball coaches hired since March, she told us, “I got into coaching originally because I wanted to inspire, impact and influence young women, and God has given me the platform to do so. There have been so many Black coaches to lead the way in order for me to be given this opportunity. 

“This is a tough profession to be in,” continued the UK coach. “It is a lot of hours, but it’s very rewarding.”

She was Wildcats associate HC for a total of six seasons (2010-12, and 2016-20), an associate HC at Tennessee (2015-16), and an assistant coach since 2002 (Western Kentucky, 2002-04; Kansas, 2004-08; Tennessee, 2012-15).

“I am a seasoned vet in the SEC,” declared Elzy to a reporter’s question about her readiness to take over the UK program on such short notice. “I have 12 years of coaching experience and five years playing in arguably the best conference in the country. I am a two-time NCAA Champion, a SEC Champion as a player and as a coach. I have recruited at the highest level at several institutions.

“I do realize that I am taking over a top team in the country,” said Elzy, “and I am just going to use it as positivity. Not every head coach gets to walk in to a team that has been successful.

“I am a defensive-minded coach. I want to be tough defensively and disrupt. We are going to continue to play up-tempo and recruit players that are versatile. Our team is extremely versatile now, so there are endless possibilities of what you can do offensively.”

Elzy also paid tribute to her former college coach, the late Pat Summitt. “Coach Pat Summitt has always taught me there are people before you to lay the foundation, and now you have the opportunity, and it is my responsibility to pay the blessings forward. So whatever I can do to help other coaches to lift up young players that want to get in the profession, I am willing, I am able, and I look forward to blessing someone else like I have been blessed.

“Coach [Summit], rest in peace,” concluded Elzy. “I hope that I am making you proud today. If I can be half the woman and half coach that you were, I would be doing something with myself.”

Pitts off the bench

Former Gopher Destiny Pitts came off the bench last weekend and scored 23 total points to help lead Texas A&M to two wins opening their season. She apparently has adjusted to sixth woman for the first time in her career. 

Pitts told the MSR during a Zoom post-game conference after last Saturday’s win at DePaul, “Coming off the bench, I get to watch the game and see what the flow is like defensively and offensively, and try to exploit that.”