On November 11th last year, Kyra Elzy found herself in the midst of a storm.
On Monday of this week, Elzy found herself at The Rocky Hollow Complex, as the coach and some of her players hosted a camp for local youth from our community.
The current head basketball coach of the University of Kentucky Women's team traveled to Somerset for a basketball camp -- three of four across the state this summer -- and she took time to describe what has been a whirlwind of sorts for her personally over the past nine months.
Just this time a year ago, Elzy -- a former standout player from Oldham County High School and the University of Tennessee -- was getting set to embark on her 9th season as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, as part of Matthew Mitchell's coaching staff.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Coach Mitchell resigned as UK Hoops head coach last November 11th, and all of a sudden, Elzy was thrown into the fire, named as Interim Head Coach of the women's program. With that sudden transition, Elzy was tasked with succeeding a guy that had put the University of Kentucky Hoops Team in the national conversation as one of the top 10 to 15 programs in the country over the past few years. Yes, those were big shoes to fill indeed, and Elzy had just a few days to get acclimated before the 2020-'21 season tipped off.
"It was a big transition to say the least, and I tease my coaches and players all the time that it was a situation where I got baptized by fire," Elzy stated with a sly grin across her face.
"You know, I always thought that one day I would be a head coach, but not in the manner that I became a head coach of this program last year," Elzy continued. "The great thing for me is that I was surrounded by great people on my coaching staff, and I had helped recruit all of our players to Kentucky, so I already had great relationships with them. That made the transition a lot easier than it could have been."
The Interim tag was taken away from the front of Elzy's name on December 14th last year, and the LaGrange native certainly made the most of her new-found opportunity.
Having to deal with Covid 19 in a year of a national pandemic -- with games getting cancelled or re-scheduled left and right -- the first-year Kentucky coach led the Hoops team to an 18-9 record, led by All-American Ryhne Howard.
UK got bounced out of the second round of the SEC Tournament by Georgia, and then saw its season come to an abrupt halt in the second round of the NCAA Tourney, with a loss to Iowa.
But all things considered, it was a successful year for coach Elzy, and she says, while it was a learning experience on the fly so to speak, it was definitely one fun ride for her.
"Obviously it was pressure filled and the expectations were high," stated Elzy.
"I felt a sense of responsibility, because coach (Matthew) Mitchell wanted the program to be turned over to me, and Mr. (Mitch) Barnhardt (UK Athletic Director) and the administration believed in me," continued the UK head coach. "You know I've invested 10 years at the University of Kentucky, which is a lot of time. I, along with my coaching staff, wanted to make sure that we moved this program forward."
As far as this week's camp at Rocky Hollow, just over 50 campers attended, and the stop in Somerset was the third of four scheduled camps hosted by coach Elzy and the UK staff and players over the course of the summer.
For Elzy, she says these type of camps is something that she and her staff and her players thoroughly enjoy doing, and that is working with kids and getting the UK brand out across the state.
"I love being at these camps, and seeing a little six-year old or seven-year old girl walk up to me and tell me that one day they'll be playing for me -- I absolutely love that," pointed out coach Elzy.
"With these camps, our players and coaches have the opportunity to inspire, impact, and influence our future generation, and that is an awesome thing," continued the UK head coach. "These are the leaders of our future. For us to be able to connect to these youngsters, and give back to the community in a state that really supports our program in a big way, is tremendous for sure. We really do enjoy doing these camps, and sometimes I think our players get more out of them than the kids that attend them do."
Coach Elzy and Kentucky has a roster for the upcoming season that is laden with an abundance of talent. There's no doubt that with Elzy guiding the program, the UK Women's Hoops Team is in very good hands.
Coach Elzy has only one year under her belt as a head coach at the University of Kentucky, but with her ability to recruit, as well as coach some very talented basketball players, UK Hoops is going to be in the national conversation for many years to come.
(NOTE: This week's camp at The Rocky Hollow Complex was sponsored by Godby Realty, Bent Wrench Auto Repair, Susan Alderdice, and the main sponsor was The Don Franklin Somerset Family of Dealerships.)