DISTINGUISHED HIGH SCHOOL COACHES
A graduate of Weber High School and Weber State University, Roger Buhrley became synonymous with high school track and field in Utah during his coaching career.
As a head coach and assistant coach in track and cross country, he was involved in 12 state championships. In his 21 years at Davis High School, he built a dominant program from a modest starting point. His first state title is the most memorable, leading him to reflect in a Deseret News story, “I got a lot of satisfaction out of that one. I thought, maybe I’m not as a big a ‘loser’ coach as I thought.”
The rest of the track and field world would view him as a big winner in a sport where he once was described as “a world-class track geek.” Roger was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
He not only loved the sport, but also those who participated in it. “I’ve never met anyone who is so concerned about kids,” said Corbin Talley, a former assistant to Roger. “And he has no ego. He hasn’t been in it for himself.”
The Salt Lake Tribune once labeled Roger “a beloved coach who built a model program at Davis.” Talley succeeded Roger as Davis’ head coach and has extended the Darts’ dynasty in the past 12 years.
The rewards of coaching were great for Roger, revolving around the feedback he received from former athletes. Those endorsements were missing from his history teaching career. As he said, “I don’t recall getting a letter from anyone about my lecture on the Industrial Revolution.” He thought it was a great presentation, just the same.
Roger taught and coached for seven years at North Layton Junior High, two years at Clearfield High, 21 years at Davis, eight years at the newly built Syracuse High and two years at Northridge High. His long list of successful athletes includes Paralympics star Hunter Woodhall.
Roger is a former president of the Utah High School Track and Field Coaches Association and served for four years on the National Federation of High Schools Track and Field Rules Committee. He was the NFHS Section 7 Coach of the Year in both boys and girls track. In Utah, he was known for decades a the go-to person for the media, fellow coaches and anyone interested in keeping up with meets, records and other developments in the sport.
In retirement, Roger lives in Huntsville.
A graduate of Judge Memorial and the University of Utah, John Colosimo launched the football program of Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper and won a state record-tying eight state championships.
Those titles came in a 16-year period, while John’s success extended throughout his 21-season tenure as the school’s football coach. He won 80% of his games. Adding his record as Judge Memorial’s coach, he ranks No. 4 all-time in Utah high school coaching with 234 victories.
Beyond that, Juan Diego former athletic director Chris Long once said, “The things the metrics cannot see is the love John’s players had for him and the respect that his fellow coaches have for him.”
One of those opponents, Morgan High coach Kovi Christiansen, told the Draper Journal, “John epitomizes everything that is special about a high school and an example of the type of coach that is fleeing far too fast from high school athletics.”
John thrived with an old-school offensive approach. His veer scheme used five basic plays, Long noted. Defenses may have known what was coming, but that didn’t mean they could stop it, as Juan Diego’s offense tormented opponents with a methodical, ball-control style. On the other side, as operated by John’s brother Joe, the Soaring Eagle defense had a knack for taking away the opponents’ best players.
The result was sustained success, as reflected by 17 region championships between the two schools, including 12 in a row. Juan Diego’s eight state titles included two “three-peats.”
The National Federation of High School Coaches Association recognized John in 2004, and in 2014, the Utah Chapter of the National Football Foundation honored him for his service to high school football. In his acceptance speech, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune, John reminded the athletes being recognized that evening to “think about the people who make you look good.”
John’s involvement in education began as a substitute teacher in his college days and has continued for nearly a half-century. In addition to football, he has coached boys and girls basketball and served as an athletic director.
The Colosimo family was instrumental in the founding of Juan Diego in Draper. John’s influence continues to extend far beyond football in his role as the school’s academic vice principal. John and his wife, Kathie, live in Sandy and are parents of three children, all products of Catholic education who are involved in college athletics in Utah.
A graduate of Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Gil Cordova presided over the Bulldogs’ golden era of football.
In a span of seven seasons from 1969-75, the former Judge quarterback coached the Bulldogs to six appearances in state championship games, winning three titles. His unbeaten team of ‘72 is considered one of the best in Utah history and Gil’s program is among five schools that have played in five consecutive title games, according to prep football historian George Felt.
After coaching at Judge for 11 years, Gil led the programs at Kearns High and Skyline High for two seasons each, completing a career that produced 37 all-state players.
His sons Anthony and James were multisport athletes for Judge in the 1980s and James joined his father as a winner of multiple state titles as football coaches at their alma mater. That gives the father-son duo a distinction in the state’s high school football annals. John Colosimo, Juan Diego Catholic High School’s highly successful coach, also played for Gil at Judge.
A strong believer in Judge’s educational mission, Gil received a “Super Fan” award from the Utah High School Activities Association in 2016 for his support of a third generation of Cordova athletes at the school.
He’s known to espouse this motto: “You can lose a lot of things in life, but never can you lose an education.”
Having grown up in the Bingham and Rose Park areas before graduating from Judge, Gil played football at Westminster College and in the U.S. Army and then launched his teaching and coaching career, specializing in world history. He pursued graduate studies in psychology at Westminster, learning techniques that he would apply to coaching.
He was known to evoke heroes and giants from Greek mythology to inspire his players, always looking for a motivation edge. As he told the Intermountain Catholic, “We weren’t always the biggest or the fastest, but we played smart. All of us coaches wanted our players, no matter the sport, to be students of the game.”
His son Anthony said recently, “He inspired players to believe in one another to believe in themselves. Gil believed in the transformative power of high school sports to build character, tenacity, teamwork and community.”
A resident of Salt Lake City, Gil remains a big fan of high school sports in the state, especially the Bulldogs.
California native Gail Meakins won a total of 10 state swimming championships, while coaching the boys and girls teams of Park City High School and Judge Memorial Catholic High School.
Her six girls titles came via two “three-peats,” one at each school. She also won three boys championship at Judge, following her one title at Park City.
Her athletes were adaptable, as illustrated by Park City’s outdoor pool workouts in the winter, with no indoor facility available. In a Deseret News story that mentioned how she warned swimmers about ice on the deck, she said having to use an outdoor pool “doesn’t seem to hurt us, but it does make us unusual.”
So did her swimmers’ success, at each school. Just as rewarding as those state championships, she hoped, were the life lessons learned through the habit of getting into the water every day and putting in the work.
“Positive attitude, individual discipline, self-confidence and teamwork” were among those benefits, she said, as swimmers “thrived in the synergy of being part of a team.”
Beyond the trophies, Gail said, “The absolute joy and pride on the face of a swimmer who just improved their time or exceeded their expectations is a memory I will never forget.”
Gail was a five-time state Coach of the Year, between the girls and boys programs at the two schools. She served the sport as a two-time president of the Utah Swimming Coaches Association and maintained the USCA website and list of swimmers’ top times for six seasons.
She went from Judge to Cornell University as an assistant coach in a move that made the Bulldog swimmers lament losing her, but they understood the allure of an Ivy League school. As one swimmer said, “We miss our old coach, but who could blame her? I mean, Cornell?”
Her relatively short tenures at the Utah schools make her impact even more impressive.
A graduate of Sacramento State, Gail completed postgraduate work at the University of California in Berkeley and the University of Utah. Her own swimming career continued well beyond her college years, as she dominated the Utah Summer Games in the 1990s. She remains an avid swimmer, runner and hiker.
Gail and her husband Mark are parents of a daughter and son and live in Huntsville, where her background in urban planning led her to become the chair of the Ogden Valley Land Trust.
New Mexico native Alaina Parker coached Snow Canyon High School volleyball teams to six state championships, sharing some of those memorable moments with her daughters, star players Ciara and Alexsa.
No one enjoyed any Snow Canyon match more than her son, the late Camden Parker, a special-needs person who is remembered as the Warriors’ biggest fan.
Camden would “light up whenever ‘his girls’ ran into the gym or onto the court,” Alaina said. “They brought him so much joy.”
Having attended New Mexico Highlands University, Alaina took over Snow Canyon’s volleyball program in 2001 and coached through 2015 at the St. George school, where she continued to teach social studies.
She was a five-time Coach of the Year as recognized by the Utah Volleyball Coaches Association, received a Distinguished Service Award from the Utah High School Activities Association and was inducted into the Snow Canyon High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
Alaina’s teams were known for being fundamentally sound and having fun on the court. “I always tried to reiterate to them that we need to be able to do the ‘boring” stuff really well,” she said. “We also laughed a lot in our gym. It is important for kids to be able to understand that there is fun and humor in sports. Too often, we are so afraid of how we will look in front of our peers that we get too uptight to perform.”
A former player once said of the team’s culture, “Warrior volleyball is a program where you can bring anyone from anywhere and teach them the skills and fundamentals they need.”
Morgan High’s victory in the 2015 state title match kept Alaina from having a perfect ending of her career. Yet while racking up those six state championships, she posted a 355-84 record, winning eight region titles, sending 23 players to collegiate volleyball and coaching two Gatorade Players of the Year in Utah. Actually, she gave birth to each of those star players: Ciara, who went on to play for BYU, and Alexsa (known widely by her nickname of “Crash”), who played at New Mexico State and Saint Mary’s.
Honored prior to her final regular-season match, Alaina was thrilled that so many former Snow Canyon players were in attendance. She was especially happy “to see that they’re good moms and good people,” she told the Spectrum. “At the end of the day that’s what matters.”
Alaina and her husband, Jeffery, live in Santa Clara, Utah.
A graduate of Bountiful High School and Weber State University, Dave Wigham won a combined six state championships with the Bountiful girls and boys soccer programs.
Dave is the only soccer coach to have won state titles in Class 3A, 4A and 5A. He also posted three runner-up finishes, while winning more than 80 percent of his games and sending over 150 players on to college programs.
He won boys state championships in 1991 and ‘93 and girls titles in 1996, 2000, ‘03 and ‘06 at Bountiful before taking over the Viewmont High boys team.
Dave’s BHS girls program became a big success, from a starting point of fielding a team with only two girls who had played competitive soccer. Before long, it was difficult even for players with soccer experience to make the Braves’ varsity, with high expectations on the state level. As he once said, “It’s never been our goal to just win region.”
Dave always credited youth programs in Bountiful for helping develop players, while he further nurtured the skills of players such as Colton Cook, Lucas Cawley and Caroline Putz, a two-time Parade All-American.
In the process, he did everything he could to enhance the Davis County soccer legacy of his father, Hugh, who moved his family from London to Utah in the early 1960s when Dave was a child. “He taught me a passion for the game,” Dave told the Deseret News. “He had a passion for the game that very few had.”
The late Hugh Wigham was the first inductee into the Utah Soccer Hall of Fame. That recognition celebrated the growth of the sport in Davis County, which went from modest beginnings in soccer to claiming the highest per-capita participation rate in the nation. Among Dave’s tributes to his father was always naming his youth squads the “Gunners,” the nickname of Arsenal, Hugh’s favorite team in England – even though Dave preferred rival Chelsea.
Before channeling his efforts into coaching and teaching, Dave was known as a tireless promoter of high school sports coaches and athletes in his coverage area as a writer for the Davis County Clipper. He cared about how those teams were perceived around the state.
He later became involved with Real Salt Lake when the Major League Soccer expansion club came to town, and he was thrilled that his father was able to witness RSL’s home opener in 2005.
Dave and his wife, Annette, are parents of three children and live in St. George.
—No honorees from 2020-21 due to COVID-19–
A graduate of Beaver High School and Southern Utah University, Calvin Albrecht coached Beaver’s boys track and field team to six state championships and the basketball team to four state titles. He also won a state cross country championship and was an assistant for five football title teams.
Calvin was a Beaver assistant basketball coach for eight years and the head coach for 20 years. In those two decades, his teams made 18 state tournament appearances and won eight region championships to go with the four state titles (including the school’s first basketball championship in 1983). Those championships were spread over 20 seasons, with the last one coming in 2002.
His second state title is especially memorable. The roster included his son Clint, and Calvin said, “It was such a fun year, because no one cared who got the glory. Every player was unselfish and kept the ultimate goal in mind.” Having five scorers average in double figures is highly unusual for a high school team, and that’s what distinguished that Beaver squad.
The Beavers posted seven other top-four finishes and Calvin recorded 351 victories. In his 29 years as head track coach, Calvin won six state titles and his teams finished second twice. Calvin will always remember an invitational meet where he encouraged a runner who usually finished far back in the pack, hoping the boy could add a point or two to the team total. With a finishing kick, he finished eighth, and the point he scored made the difference. “This race not only made his day, but his season,” Calvin said. “From that day forward, he had so much more confidence. He never won a race, but he knew he was a contributing member of his team, a part of something greater than himself. Sometimes it just takes believing in a kid to help them achieve what they didn’t think they could. Every coach has those cherished moments.”
Calvin was inducted into the Beaver High Teacher Hall of Fame and the SUU Coaching Factory Hall of Fame. He was a two-time Class 2A Basketball Coach of the Year and earned a similar honor in track and field. A farmer and rancher, Calvin and his wife Bonnie Sue are parents of seven children and live in Minersville.
A graduate of Escalante High School and Utah State University, Bryan Griffin coached the Richfield High boys cross country and track and field teams to 11 state championships. An a Escalante runner, Bryan established school records in the 880 and the mile that were never broken. He became a junior college All-American at the College of Eastern Utah, where he’s a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bryan began his coaching career at Bonneville High in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and moved to Ben Lomond High in 1987 as the girls cross country and track and field coach. In 1991, he went to Richfield, where he built a boys track and field dynasty that started in the early 2000s, after he initially coached the girls teams. His boys cross country teams claimed state titles in the fall of ’02, ’05, ’06, ’08 and ’12. His boys track teams won state championships in the spring of 2003, ’04, ’06, ’07, ’09 and ’13. Between them, Bryan’s teams won 25 consecutive region titles, beginning in 2012. He collected seven state second-place finishes and 35 region championships, while his athletes continually broke school records. More than two dozen athletes went on to compete in college.
“I loved running with my cross country kids,” Bryan said. “I always told them I would never give them a workout, I wasn’t willing to do myself.” He added, “Some of my best memories were not always the region and state titles, but watching some of the less gifted athletes exceed mine and their own expectations. Ever since high school, I have been surrounded by great people and coaches whom I admire and respect. I was taught by the best and coached against the best, and will be forever grateful for all they did for me.” Among the honors Bryan has received are the Utah Class 2A Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year award in 2005 and ’09, the Utah Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year award in ’09 and the West Sectional Track and Field Coach of the Year in ’09 award from the National Federation of High Schools.
Bryan is known for the hours he spent preparing for and staging track meets, including the annual Nyle Norris Invitational and the Richfield Relays, as well as region championships hosted by the school. A two-time participant in the Boston Marathon, Bryan and his wife, Sue, are parents of five children and live in Richfield. Each of his three girls and two boys competed for his Richfield teams.
A graduate of Delta High School and Southern Utah University, Ladd Holman coached nine consecutive state championship wrestling teams.
As a wrestler and coach, Ladd has been involved in the sport since 1965. Even now, with his primary occupation as a cattle rancher, he describes himself as “a grandpa wrestling coach.” Ladd wrestled for Delta as a member of four state championship teams, setting the stage for his coaching career. He coached at Millard High for seven years and Delta for 12 years, compiling a phenomenal record. He coached 54 individual state champions, 34 runners-up and 61 third- or fourth-place finishers.
Delta’s domination was reflected in 1986 when the Rabbits had nine state champions in the 12 weight classes. In 1990, Delta claimed seven individual titles. In addition to those nine straight team championships (1985-93), two of Ladd’s teams finished second. He credits assistant coaches Dave Wankier, Joe Morris, Kevin Singleton and Paul Pilkington for his success, along with many supportive wrestling families and his own coaches in high school and college that served as good examples of caring about their wrestlers.
Many of his former wrestlers are either coaching or having their own sons pursuing the sport. In Ladd’s case, four grandsons are wrestlers and his son Joel is Juab High’s coach, having led the Wasps to three consecutive state championships of his own (while working as an orthopedic surgeon). Joel told The Daily Herald that he tries to convey the same values with his wrestlers that he learned in his father’s Delta program.
The family enjoyed a great moment in 2018 when Ladd was inducted into the Utah High School Activities Association Circle of Fame, the night when Joel’s Juab team won a state title (coincidentally, beating Class 3A newcomer Delta). Ladd was honored six times as the Utah Wrestling Coach of the Year and was named the 1990 UHSAA Coach of the Year. He has been inducted into the Utah Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Having retired from teaching and coaching, Ladd lives with his wife, Margo (they’re parents of four children), in the small Millard County town of Leamington. In a Deseret News story about the town, Ladd once contrasted the buzz of a high school environment to his current job by obsreving, “I shut the truck off and the cows were eating hay in the snow there, and I could hear their jaws munching. It’s that quiet.”
A graduate of Cyprus High School and Southern Utah University, Dave Peck turned Bingham High’s football program into a state and national power. Dave coached the Miners to five state championships at Utah’s highest level, while appearing in the championship game or the semifinals 10 times. His 2014 team was ranked No. 8 by USA Today and played in the inaugural State Champions Bowl Series in Florida and his 2010 team finished No. 4 nationally.
His career started at Grace High School in Idaho. He then became the head football and baseball coach at North Sanpete HS in Mt. Pleasant. Dave moved to Bingham as an assistant football coach in 1985. After a stop at Hunter High, he became Cyprus’ head coach in 1995 before going back to Bingham as head coach in 2000.
In 15 seasons with the Miners, Dave posted a 154-38 record and was a driving force in Utah high school football’s becoming nationally recognized. As a result, The Salt Lake Tribune named him one of the 25 Most Influential People in Utah Sports. He coached in the first high school football game played in the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Dave was inducted into the SUU Coaches Hall of Fame in 2015, when he also received the National Football Foundation-Utah Chapter’s annual award for outstanding contribution to amateur football. Other recognition has included South Jordan City’s Hero Award in 2010, the Utah High School Activities Association’s Class 5A All-Sports Coach of the Year Award in 2009 and the Bingham Teacher of the Year in 2008-09.
When Peck retired from Bingham High School, he wrote in his resignation speech: “I have always looked at our players and managers like they were my own sons and daughters,” I wanted every one of them to feel important whether they were all-staters or never hardly played at all. I always felt that we could build this program into a state power, but never dreamed that we would have the national recognition that has come our way.”
One of Dave’s favorite sayings is, “Help as many people get what they want out of life, and you will eventually get what you want out of life.” That has proven true in his case, many times over.
Dave returned to the sideline in 2016 as North Sanpete’s defensive coordinator, helping his nephew, Rhett Bird. Dave and his wife, Christy, are parents of four children and live in Fairview.
A graduate of Tooele High School and the University of Utah, Mel Roberts coached Tooele’s boys and girls swim teams for nearly 50 years. In his 49-year tenure from 1969 to 2017, Mel coached his teams to 11 state championships and 43 region titles. He compiled more than 1,000 combined victories, with a 549-103 record in boys meets and a 463-96 record in girls meets for an overall winning percentage of .784.
Mel coached six All-Americans and 42 scholastic All-Americans and was a two-time Coach of the Year as selected by the National High School Coaches Association, for girls in 2010 and for boys in 2017. He’s the only coach honored for both the boys and girls divisions. Internationally, Mel coached the U.S. boys team in the Moscow Youth Games in 2003. Nationally, he has held several positions in the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, including president, editor, state delegate, zone director, All-American clearinghouse, education chair and awards chair. He was inducted into the NISCA Hall of Fame in 2010 and served on the National Federation Swimming and Diving Rules Committee for four years.
In Utah, he was inducted into the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame in 2010, was president of the Utah Swimming Coaches Association for 10 years and was the secretary/treasurer for 19 years. Mel was shaped by his legendary swim coaches, Leigh Pratt at Tooele High and Don Reddish at Utah.
In the late stages of his coaching career, he reflected, “Coaches have such an influence on swimmers; they teach things that can’t be taught anywhere else. We teach kids more than just how to swim fast, we teach them about life. It’s a fantastic feeling when kids come back years after they have graduated to thank you for everything you’ve taught them.” He added, “I never had a desire to move to a college coaching position. I have stayed in the one place for so long because I grew up here and Tooele is a huge part of my life.”
One of his former swimmers, Stuart Smith, told the SwimTopia website, “Mel did a good job empowering the older swimmers to be leaders, there was a real cohesiveness to the team. Mel fostered the kind of camaraderie where we lifted each other.”
Mel and his wife, Gwen, are parents of 13 children and live in Tpoele.
A graduate of Viewmont High School and the University of Utah, Larry Wall defied a trend in his profession by coaching Bountiful High’s football team for 31 seasons.
In an era when high school coaching tenures are becoming shorter, due to the demands of the job, Larry stayed with the Braves for more than three decades. When he stepped down after the 2015 season, he was recognized as Utah’s second-winningest prep coach in history with a 238-116 record. Bountiful won four state championships, in pairs: in 1990 and ’91, and then in 2002 and ’03.
Larry was an outstanding defensive end for Utah in the 1970s. He began his coaching and teaching career in 1979 at age 23 and stayed with the profession until retiring from teaching in 2018.
Some of his recognition includes a Distinguished Service Award from the Utah High School Activities Association in 1992, a Bountiful Rotary Club Distinguished Educator Award and an acknowledgment of contributions to youth football in Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico. He also was a two-time winner of the Officials Association Sportsmanship Award and received a Davis School District Hall of Fame Award.
When he left coaching, Larry reflected on his Bountiful experience in a Salt Lake Tribune story. “I’ve lived a charmed life here,” he said. “It’s been awesome. We’ve tried to do the right things and do it the right way. I tried to put the kids first and not some of the other things that creep in there, and I think, for the most part, we were successful in doing that.”
In the Deseret News, Larry said, “It’s a great community here, great school. Great administrators that support us and support me. We’ve built a really great tradition here, with that tradition we just tried to build on that every year. I think the guys learn from the previous group that came through, and then you have some stability.”
As former player Landon Layton once said, “Coach Wall bases everything on tradition. He is really old fashioned and isn’t one to go off and try new stuff when the old stuff is working. He really focuses on us playing Bountiful football, and everything else will take care of business. It’s fun to play for a program where you know they have that tradition and it’s all thanks to coach Wall.”
Larry and his wife, Connie, are parents of three children and live in Bountiful.
A graduate of Morgan High School and Utah State University, Jim Wiscombe played for a state championship basketball team in Morgan and then coached the Trojans to consecutive state titles 40 years later.
Jim was named the Class 3A MVP for an unbeaten (24-0) Morgan team coached by the late Ron Abegglen in 1974, while also playing football and baseball for the Trojans. He played basketball and baseball for the College of Eastern Utah before graduating from Utah State.
His first coaching and teaching job was at Delta High School, where he worked with the football, basketball and baseball teams in various roles. He went home to Morgan in 1987 and was the head basketball coach for 24 years, while teaching Spanish and then becoming the school’s head counselor. He also was Morgan’s athletic director for five years. Jim took three years off from coaching to complete a master’s degree, then returned to the sideline for 13 more seasons.
In addition to his state championships in 2013 and ’14, concluding his coaching career, Jim won 10 region titles, including two runs of four championships in a row. Two of his teams were state runners-up, two other teams were unbeaten going into the state tournament, and he won the last 35 region games of his career. He was named the Wilbur Braithwaite 3A Coach of the Year three times and received a Distinguished Service Award from the Utah High School Activities Association in 2013.
When he stepped down as Morgan’s coach, Jim praised his players in a Deseret News article, saying, “They’ve been great to work with, they’re great kids. They’re there to learn, they’re there to improve, it’s just a great teaching environment. I’ve learned more from the kids than I’ve ever taught them. You learn a lot from high school kids.” He also said, “It’s been fun, had a lot of great experience with great kids, and I’ll miss the experience. We’ll move on and try and do something else.”
Jim and his wife, Liz, are parents of three children and live in Morgan, after he grew up on a farm with nine siblings in the tiny Morgan County town of Richville, where he said his love of work was created. He continues to serve as an MHS counselor. In January 2019, the Morgan County News spotlighted him as a school employee of the month.
2018 – View Video of 2018 Inductees
A graduate of Bonneville High School and Weber State, Craig Gladwell won four state basketball championships in the 1990s as North Sevier High School’s coach. In the modern era, few varsity head coaches of high-profile sports stay in the game for anything approaching the length of Craig’s 43-year tenure. “I just kept plugging along, and loving it, right up until now,” he said when he retired in 2012. His career choice was inspired by the legendary Dick Motta, who taught a coaching methods class at Weber State, where Craig was a baseball star. After working at the junior high level, Craig moved to Idaho and enjoyed successful stints of coaching multiple sports at two small high schools, Aberdeen and West Side. His 1980 West Side football team won a state title.
Following four years at the larger Blackfoot High School, Craig came back to Utah at North Sevier, where his consistent success turned into a basketball dynasty over 16 years. The Wolves’ basketball teams won Class 2A state championships in 1990, ’91, ’96 and ’97, in addition to a runner-up performance and three third-place finishes. In 1998, he was voted by his peers as the state of Utah’s best small-school coach in a Salt Lake Tribune survey.
In 1990, North Sevier beat county rival Richfield High for the first time in 17 years on the way to the school’s first state title in 12 years. At one time, he was the only Utah high school teacher to act as an athletic director and head coach in football, basketball and baseball. Craig concluded his career with a 10-year run at Lehi High School, leading the Pioneers to second place in the 2004 state tournament. He finished with a basketball coaching record of 489-265.
The committees he was involved with in the Utah High School Activities Association (“play where you live” and “sportsmanship”) speak of his efforts to retain traditional values. Wayne Henderson, one of Craig’s multisport athletes at West Side, said he appreciates how his coach “did not forget about us when he moved to positions at other places,” remaining interested in their lives.
Craig was named the basketball “Coach of the Year” in his classification five times in Utah and was honored as the state’s “Athletic Director of the Year” in 1999. He received a distinguished service award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in 2006 and earned a citation from the National Federation of State High Schools in 2011. Craig and his wife, Karen, are parents of four children and live in Murray.
A graduate of Murray High School and the University of Utah, Esther Halliday won three consecutive state championships as Bingham High School’s girls volleyball coach. Esther’s 42-year career in education included 31 years as a volleyball coach, among other assignments. She started in 1974 as a coach in three sports at Judge Memorial Catholic High School and retired from Indian Hills Middle School last June. In between, she spent 30 years at Bingham, with long tenures as the Miners’ volleyball coach and chair of the physical education department. Records were not kept prior to 1980, but she posted a 626-31 record from 1980-2005. The Miners won state champion-ships in 1989, ’90 and ’91. “All three championships are cherished battles but the third was unexpected,” Esther once wrote. “Placing third in region, this team, with only one experienced senior, whose desire carried the team of five juniors beyond its wildest imaginations, advanced to the championship and stole away the title from a team whose destiny seemed certain, a story definitely worthy of an inspirational Hollywood movie.”
Bingham also finished second in the state in ’94. Her teams won six region titles and only once, early her career, did Bingham miss the state tournament. Nearly half of her teams finished in the state’s top eight. She also was the Miners’ head coach in basketball and track and field in the late 1970s. “Esther’s coaching experience speaks for itself,” said former Bingham Athletic Director Brad Bevan. “Her trademark was her organization skills and her ability to teach a variety of skill sets to her physical education students.”
Esther has received many awards along the way. She earned a Utah Coaches Association “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2004 and a Bingham “Candlelight Lifetime Service Award” in 2006. The Bingham Alumni Foundation’s tribute credits her for taking “a personal interest in all her students and putting her whole heart into the structure of teaching, coaching and student behavior at Bingham that was followed by elite coaches and teachers long after her retirement.”
In recounting her life story, Esther once wrote about how “in the early 1970’s women’s sports was in its infancy and struggling to make a significant presence in a male dominant sports world. Title IX compliance forced schools to make high school sports available to their female athletes as well as the male athletes. Female coaches were in demand, placing me in the role of a lifetime.” In retirement, Esther lives in Salt Lake City.
A graduate of Teton High School in Idaho and Brigham Young University, Mike Hansen won three state championships as Layton’s wrestling coach. The Lancers also finished second three times during his 31-year tenure and he was a four-time Utah wrestling “Coach of the Year.” Among the more than 150 individual state place-winners he coached were his sons Tyrone, Blake and and Braden. Mike wrestled for BYU in 1970-74, winning two Western Athletic Conference titles and earning All-America honors. Mike served three terms as president of the Utah Wrestling Coaches Association and was inducted into the Utah High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2000, he earned “Coach of the Year” awards in both the Utah High School Activities Association and Section VII of the National Federation of State High Schools and was presented the “Utah Champions Award.” In 2003, he was NFHS Wrestling “Coach of the Year.”
Mike was known for his teaching style, technique instruction and development of team culture in an individual sport. And when he received his national award, he made sure his wrestlers joined him on the stage during a school assembly. Mike always wanted his athletes to learn lessons from the demanding sport. “If they can finish wrestling,” he once told the Deseret News, “they can finish anything in life.”
At age 40, he was involved in an epic match in the Utah Summer Games with his brother Brad, who was then 31 and the wrestling coach at Spanish Fork High School. Competing in the 220-pound open division in 1989, the brothers battled to an 11-11 tie with 45 seconds remaining, when the power went out in Southern Utah University’s arena. Each scored another point in regulation, and agreed to a draw rather than go into overtime.
Beyond his own teams’ achievements, Mike is recognized as an innovator of wrestling tournaments in Utah. His 18-team Layton Invitational became an annual state classic. Prior to the early 1980s, the UHSAA did not permit in-season invitational tournaments to exceed eight teams, although the state meet included 16 teams in each classification. Mike appealed and presented to the UHSAA a 16-team plan that would fit within the time-out-of-school constraints, decrease costs, improve revenue and expand competition. To the surprise of Layton administrators, the UHSAA then approved 16-team invitationals. Mike applied, hosted and won the first 16-team invitational. (Invitationals now are even bigger).
Mike also was instrumental in the UHSAA’s move to allow two wrestlers in the same weight class from the same school to qualify for the state tournament, rather than one of them having to make weight adjustments to compete in the region meet. Parents of six children, Mike and his wife, Sherisse, live in Layton.
An Iowa native and a graduate of Iowa State University, Brian Kuhlmann enjoyed pheno-menal success as the coach of Timpview High School’s cross country and track and field programs with 14 state championships and 13 second-place finishes. After coaching at high schools in Wisconsin and Illinois, Brian came to Timpview in 1979 and launched a 28-year tenure that would include his cross country teams qualifying for the state meet every season. His boys teams won eight state championships, including four in a row in 1986-89. Timpview produced seven individual state champions and 35 all-state runners. In track and field, the Thunderbirds had 41 individual and relay state titles, with seven state records.
Brian was known for emphasizing the team concept in an individual sport. The boys and girls teams were always considered one program. “What I really enjoyed the most was seeing kids improve every year on their events,” Kuhlmann once told The Daily Herald of Provo. “I never say a kid can’t achieve what he wants to achieve. Sometimes a kid would say to me, ‘Coach, I’m going to set the school record,’ and in the back of my mind I’d think, ‘No way.’ But I’ll be goll-danged if they didn’t.”
The National Federation of State High Schools named him cross country “Coach of the Year,” in 2006, adding to many honors from the Utah High School Track and Field Coaches Association. The coaches in Utah Valley asked him to stage an annual track invitational that served as a state qualifying meet, along with a Utah Country cross country developmental meet.
BYU’s cross country program, in particular, has benefited from homegrown athletes from nearby Timpview in a state that consistently has produced outstanding runners. Brian credits high school coaches such as Dave Houle, Roger Buhrley and Jeff Arbogast for creating a culture of running in the state that he developed at Timpview. Those coaches “helped get kids excited about running,” Brian told The Daily Universe of BYU. “We now have been blessed with lots of good kids, and those kids bring their friends along. Because of the accomplishments of the past, our kids look beyond the state meet, thinking they can run in college.” His influence continues with several former student teachers and interns who have become high school coaches, along with Timpview alumni who have gone into the profession. Brian and his wife, Janet, are parents of seven children and live in Provo.
A native of Nevada and a graduate of Weber State University, Roger Pyper won four state championships as Wasatch High School’s girls basketball coach. Roger started work-ing at the Heber City school in 1977 and coached the boys tennis team to second place in the state in ’79, the program’s highest finish at that time. In 15 seasons as the Wasps’ baseball coach, he won five region titles and received two Class 2A “Coach of the Year” awards, while Wasatch took second place in 1988 and finished in the top four in three other seasons. The baseball program had been cut from the curriculum for six years, before Roger revived it. Using community volunteers, he built and main-tained the field that now is known as one of the best facilities in the state.
Girls basketball became the source of his greatest success, beginning with the 1989-90 season. In 21 years, he went 339-177, with some remarkable season records. Wasatch went 25-0, 24-1 (twice) and 23-2. Roger’s teams won state championships in 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2009 and claimed 16 region titles. In 14 of his 16 state appearances, Wasatch finished in the top six. Roger coached four state MVPs and one player who was named “Miss Basketball” in Utah. In 2002, he was selected as the Western Regional Girls Basketball “Coach of the Year” by the National Federation of State High Schools. In Utah, he was named the Class 3A “Coach of the Year” four times and the region “Coach of the Year” 11 times.
Roger’s impact in the Heber Valley began at the youth level. He and his wife, Susan, once worked together to launch the Wasatch Junior High girls basketball team and they voluntarily conducted the Junior Jazz program for girls in grades 2-8 for 18 years. Roger and Sue are known as creative and committed fund-raisers, helping to launch those high school baseball and junior high basketball programs. With parental help, they sold chili, hot chocolate, hot dogs and baked goods at dogsled races and football games. They also raised money through a tennis skills tournament and by selling candy and hundreds of homemade suckers.
And the athletes had to buy into the program with their dedication. They were required to do field and gym maintenance, set up equipment and help create practice plans. “We tried to instill in them that it is a privilege to play and represent a school team, and the need to take extreme pride in the team,” Roger said. “Our former players will tell you that they learned the value of hard work.” Roger and Susan are parents of two children and live in Midway.
A graduate of Kearns High School and the University of Utah, Larry Swim coached Murray’s boys and girls teams to 17 state swimming championships. Larry coached the Spartans for 30 years and his state titles were divided almost evenly, with nine gold trophies in girls competition and eight in boys meets. His teams won a combined 42 region titles. In water polo, conducted separately from the Utah High School Activities Association, he added another 16 state championships. In 1990, Larry was named the UHSAA’s Class 3A “Coach of the Year.” As voted by the Utah High School Coaches Association, he was a seven-time “Coach of the Year” for girls swimming and a five-time “Coach of the Year” for boys swimming. He served as president of the Coaches Association for six years and directed the high school state meet for more than 10 years.
Larry also coached the Murray Aquatic Club for 30 years. While coaching many top-level swimmers, Larry always tried to maximize the potential of athletes with less talent. “That’s more rewarding to me,” he told the Deseret News after retiring in 2006. “Don’t get me wrong, you like to see those (elite swimmers). But to watch a kid that barely gets (to state) as a freshman or sophomore and are big players when they’re juniors or seniors, that’s what it’s about to me.” Coaches such as Larry have long-lasting impact. That became evident during a party that was organized by former swimmers and their parents, after he tried to slip quietly into retirement. “He’s probably one of the biggest influences of my life,” said Carrie Hartman, who set several Murray High records during the 1990s. “He’s been a father, a coach, a friend, a colleague, a teacher. He’s been a lot of things.”
Larry almost became something other than a swimming coach. He once planned to follow his father into accounting, only to steer himself to an alternative career. “Boy, when I took my first accounting class, that was enough for me,” he once said. He cited his Kearns swimming coach, Larry Tracy, for influencing his ultimate path. Several friends from Kearns also went into education. Larry taught health education and was a counselor at Murray and once was named the Murray “Teacher of the Year” by the Board of Education. He and his wife, Denice, are parents of two children and live in Draper.
A native of Wyoming and a graduate of Weber State University, the late Jody Warren produced 26 individual state wrestling cham-pions in 25 years. After wrestling for Weber State, he coached for two years at Ogden High School and 23 years at Weber High School. His athletes included five All-Americans and 86 state place-winners. His 2006-07 Weber team went unbeaten on the way to the state championship. The Warriors also finished second in the state five times. Weber’s ’07 team featured Jody’s son, Shay, a four-time state champion who went on to wrestle for Harvard University. The Warriors beat powerful Viewmont in five head-to-head matches in the Region 1 tournament. And then in the Class 5A state meet, Weber earned the school’s first wrestling title in 51 years.
Don Wayne Nelson
Carol De Monge
James Durrant Jr
J. Wallace West
Dunn “Snide” Taylor