Elaine Michaelis Staff Bio | Volleyball Coach

Elaine Michaelis

2008 Hall of Fame Inductee

If you ask Elaine Michaelis who deserves recognition for her 886 wins as a volleyball coach at BYU, she would tell you it was the students. She probably wouldn't mention her coach of the year awards from the Western Athletic Conference, US Olympic Committee, NCAA, American Volleyball Coaches Association, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and International Association of Coaching, or the fact that she personally helped develop the female athletic program at BYU and across the nation.

Even after being inducted in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and having the volleyball court in the Smith Fieldhouse named after her, she is still surprised that  BYU's Hall of Fame would include her.

It's that humility and admiration for students and athletics that made Michaelis the kind of player, administrator, coach and mentor she was for the 44 years she spent with BYU athletics. Her work and accomplishments as a coach have made her a legend, but her strength and character as a person left a legacy.

Michaelis coached volleyball, among other sports, at BYU from 1961 to 2002. When she retired from coaching, she was ranked No. 2 all-time in Division I volleyball victories and with the most wins by a female coach in collegiate volleyball at any level, even without counting her first eight seasons, which had no records kept.

With an emphasis on hard work and integrity, Michaelis led her teams to perform at the highest level while maintaining sportsmanship and dignity. She was known for valuing the development of players' character as much as she valued the development of their physical talents, and in doing so never suffered a losing season. Under her watch, 18 players earned 51 All-America awards and six earned major national player honors.

Michaelis served simultaneously as both a head coach and the Cougars' top administrator for seven seasons. Consistently ranked among the top-10 women's programs in the country, women's athletics at BYU thrived under her direction from 1995 to 2004.

She worked to not only influence the students, but intercollegiate volleyball as a whole - serving as NAGWS and NCAA clinician, chair of the AIAW Volleyball Committee and chair of the Volleyball Rules Committee. She was also a member of AIAW's Executive Committee and chair of the AIAW National Ethics and Eligibility Committee, where she worked to further opportunities for women in the athletic community.

Michaelis began her career at BYU in a time when there were no scholarships for students and no real benefits to coaching except for the love of the game and the players. She kept the passion of that time and worked to help organize the world of women's intercollegiate athletics, bringing success and accolades to many students throughout her 44-year career at BYU.

 Personal

  • B.S. in physical education from BYU, 1960
  • M.S. in physical education from BYU, 1962

Career Highlights

  • Helped 18 players earn 51 All-American awards and six earn major national player honors
  • Served as Executive Director of Women’s Athletics at BYU from 1995-2004
  • Coached her teams to a 356-37 (.906) record in conference play while claiming 23 titles
  • Won the inaugural championship in each of BYU’s five volleyball leagues
  • Achieved a national tournament record of 73-44 (.624), including the ninth-best NCAA record of any school at 26-20 (.565) Only four programs played in more NCAA tournaments
  • Helped her 1972-73 team finish as the national runner-up (AIAW) and her 1993 squad become the first BYU team to qualify for an NCAA Final Four
  • Never suffered a losing season and finished her career with 28 consecutive 20-win seasons. Her teams qualified for 30 of the 33 national tournaments, including 20 of 21 NCAA tournaments
  • Retired from coaching in May 2002 after 40 years guiding the Cougar program
  • Retired as the all-time leader in victories among female coaches in collegiate volleyball at any level with an 886-225-5 (.792) record
  • Ranks second all-time in Division I women’s volleyball victories

Before BYU

  • Played volleyball, basketball and softball at BYU

At BYU

  • Director of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at BYU from 1995-2004

Years as Head Coach

  • Women's volleyball: 1961-2002
  • Women's basketball: 1961-1977
  • Women's field hockey: 1961-1966
  • Softball: 1961-1971

After BYU

  • DGWS Executive Board (1967-69)
  • AIAW Volleyball Committee (1972-76)
  • Chairperson, AIAW Volleyball Committee (1973-76)
  • AIAW Executive Board, Region 7 Representative (1972-74)
  • USVBA Rules Committee (1974-76)
  • Chairperson, Ethics and Eligibility, AIAW Executive Board (1974-76)
  • Chairperson, NAGWS Rules Committee (1976-80)
  • NCAA Regional Volleyball Committee (1982-83)
  • Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Association Board of Directors (1982-85)

Coaching Stats

Coaching Awards

  • Mountain West Conference Dr. Albert C. Yates Distinguished Service Award in 2005
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society Utah State Chapter Sportsperson of the Year in 2005
  • BYU names Smith Fieldhouse court “Elaine Michaelis Court” in 2005
  • Pioneers in Progress Award in 2003
  • Career Achievement recognition, presented by MWC coaches in 2002
  • USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award in 2001
  • AVCA Founders Award in 1996
  • BYU Cougar Club Dale Rex Memorial Award in 1994
  • Volleyball Festival Distinguished Service Award in 1993
  • Honoree of Salt Lake City Old Time Coaches Association in 1993
  • Distinquished Bear River High School Alumni in 1988
  • BYU Lighting the “Y” honoree in 1987

 

Hall of Fame Awards

  • BYU Hall of Fame Inductee in 2008
  • AVCA Hall of Fame Inductee (member of inaugural class inducted) in 2003
  • UNGWS Hall of Fame in 1990
  • Utah Summer Games Hall of Fame in 1987

 

Coach of the Year Awards

  • United States Olympic Committee (USOC) National Coach of the Year – Volleyball in 2002
  • WAC Mountain Division Coach of the Year in 1997
  • NCAA District VII Coach of the Year in 1996
  • WAC Mountain Division Coach of the Year in 1996
  • WAC Coach of the Year in 1994
  • WAC Coach of the Year in 1993
  • AVCA Northwest Region/Tachikara Coach of the Year in 1987
  • HCAC Coach of the Year in 1986
  • HCAC Coach of the Year in 1983
  • HCAC Coach of the Year in 1982
  • IAC Coach of the Year in 1981
Elaine Michaelis

Elaine Michaelis guided BYU’s women’s volleyball program for 40 seasons before retiring from coaching in May 2002. She also served as Director of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at BYU from 1995-2004, overseeing one of the country’s most successful intercollegiate women’s athletics programs.

A legend in the coaching profession, Michaelis retired as the all-time leader in victories among female coaches in collegiate volleyball at any level with 886 wins (which included only the 33 seasons since volleyball records were maintained at BYU starting in 1969). She ranks second overall in Division I women’s volleyball victories, trailing only UCLA’s Andy Banachowski. When Michaelis retired from coaching, only six other female coaches (all softball coaches) had ever achieved more wins than Michaelis in an NCAA Division I sport.

Respected throughout the collegiate volleyball world for her exceptional volleyball mind, Michaelis was always gracious and dignified before, during and after matches. Her teams were always well prepared for opponents and played under control during the matches. While compiling an overall record of 886-225-5 (.792), Michaelis never suffered a losing season. With a 20-9 mark in her final season, Michaelis completed her 28th consecutive 20-win season while advancing the team to her 12th straight NCAA tournament. Overall, her teams qualified for 30 of the 33 national tournaments, including 20 of 21 NCAA tournaments. Her 1972-73 team finished as the national runner-up and her 1993 squad became the first BYU team to qualify for an NCAA Final Four. Michaelis achieved a national tournament record of 73-44 (.624), including the ninth-best NCAA record of any school at 26-20 (.565). Only four programs played in more NCAA tournaments.

Against conference competition, Michaelis’ teams were dominating, earning an incredible 356-37 (.906) record. She holds the distinction of winning the inaugural championship in each of the five leagues in which the Cougars were volleyball members, including the inaugural Mountain West Conference title in 1999 (with 13-1 league record). Overall, her teams claimed 23 conference titles.

Bringing in top-flight talent and teaching sound fundamental volleyball resulted in BYU players earning many honors during Michaelis’ tenure. Under her tutelage, 18 players earned 51 All-America awards, including nine AVCA/CVCA and six Volleyball Magazine first-team honors. Six players were singled out for major individual national honors, with the top award going to Mariliisa Salmi in 1986 as the CVCA National Player of the Year. Four athletes earned seven CoSIDA Academic All-America awards.

Also recognized on numerous occasions, Michaelis was honored by her peers as conference coach of the year eight times — once in the Intermountain Athletic Conference, three times in the High Country Athletic Conference and four times in the Western Athletic Conference. She was named the 1987 Tachikara Northwest Region Division I Coach of the Year and the 1996 NCAA District 7 Coach of the Year.

On December 18, 2003, she was inducted into the inaugural class of the AVCA Hall of Fame. She was also honored with the Pioneers in Progress Award in 2003 and the United States Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year for Volleyball in 2002. Her coaching peers in the MWC also recognized her with a Career Achievement Award in 2002. In 2001, she received the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award.

A 1988 Bear River High School Distinguished Alumni recipient, she was inducted into the Utah Summer Games Hall of Fame in 1987, the Hall of Fame of the Utah Network for Women and Girls in Sport in 1990, and was one of three honorees of the Salt Lake City Old Time Coaches Association in 1993. She was the 1994 recipient of the Dale Rex Memorial Award, an honor given annually by the BYU Cougar Club to the person who has contributed the most to amateur athletics in Utah.

For her years of dedication, Michaelis received the Volleyball Festival Distinguished Service to U.S. Volleyball Award in 1993.  She also accepted the AVCA Founders Award, which honors individuals who have been involved in the advancements of volleyball for at least 15 years, at the 1996 AVCA Coach of the Year luncheon.

Michaelis was part of BYU’s women’s athletics program since she was a student participating in volleyball, basketball and softball from 1956-60. An excellent athlete, she once pitched a no-hitter and a one-hitter on the same day during a regional softball tournament at the University of Colorado in 1959. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1960, she was hired to coach several of BYU’s women’s teams in 1961. She went on to obtain a master's degree in physical education from BYU in 1962 and holds the rank of associate professor of physical education and full athletic professional.

Through the 1960s and into the early 1970s — the era of “sports days,” she coached volleyball, basketball, softball and field hockey. She continued on as basketball coach until 1977, logging an intercollegiate record of 48-34 from 1972-1977. She also served as director of the women’s intramural and extramural programs at BYU for 10 years.

Michaelis enjoyed success in the 1960s with BYU competing at local and regional levels. Once women’s athletics took on a national look in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Michaelis had her volleyball team poised to be a national contender. At the inaugural AIAW national volleyball tournament during the 1969-70 season, Michaelis coached the Cougars to a seventh-place finish.  Her 1972-73 team finished as the national runner-up with a 20-2 record and her 1978 squad placed fourth with a 34-5 resume.

Prior to the NCAA taking over women’s sports, Michaelis earned a 51-9 record in AIAW regional play, winning seven straight AIAW Region VII titles.

As a coach and administrator at BYU, Michaelis constantly worked not only to improve the BYU program but also to improve collegiate volleyball as a whole – serving as an NAGWS and NCAA clinician, chair of the AIAW Volleyball Committee, and chair of the Volleyball Rules Committee. She was a member of the AIAW Executive Committee for five years and chair of the AIAW National Ethics and Eligibility Committee.  She served on the MWC television and championships committees as well as the BYU Advancement Council. She assisted in planning the facility improvements at BYU, including Miller Park, the Indoor Practice Facility, Student Athlete Building and renovations to the Smith Fieldhouse. She established the 12th team, a support group for women’s athletics, in 2002.

Michaelis served simultaneously as both a head coach and the Cougars’ top administrator for seven seasons. Consistently ranked among the top-10 women’s programs in the country, BYU women’s athletics thrived under Michaelis’ direction. BYU’s 11 women’s teams regularly rank among the nation’s best in their respective sports. Under her tenure as BYU Women’s Athletics Director, the cross country team finished either No. 1 or No. 2 each year while winning four NCAA titles. During her final season in 2003-04, cross country finished No. 2 and the soccer team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, while gymnastics (No. 13), track and field (No. 15 outdoor, No. 19 indoor) and women’s tennis (No. 21) also achieved top-25 ranked seasons.