Elaine Michaelis Honored With Court-Naming

BYU named the Smith Fieldhouse floor Elaine Michaelis Court on Friday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

George Albert Smith Fieldhouse floor is named Elaine Michaelis Court

PROVO -- For 40 years the Smith Fieldhouse floor was home to the teams of longtime BYU women's volleyball coach Elaine Michaelis. Friday BYU honored the legendary coach by naming the court "Elaine Michaelis Court."

Many former players, coaches, co-workers as well as friends and fans showed up to meet with Michaelis during a reception held prior to the BYU-Kansas volleyball match Friday. BYU then publicly honored Michaelis during a naming ceremony just prior to the match to officially name the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse main court Elaine Michaelis Court.

During the ceremony, BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson, Advancement Vice President Fred Skousen and Athletics Director Tom Holmoe spoke of Elaine's great legacy.

"Thank you for your many years of service and the great success you have achieved," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "This is a fitting tribute for a true legend in women's volleyball."

"During the six years I have known Elaine, it was easy for me to see her passion for volleyball and the care and concern she has for the young women she coached, " Skousen said. "Elaine is only the third former Cougar coach to receive the prestigious naming honor, joining LaVell Edwards (LaVell Edwards Stadium named in 2000) and Clarence Robison (Clarence F. Robison Track and Field Complex named in 2004)."

A video tribute was played, highlighting her hall-of-fame career, before Michaelis addressed the crowd.

"I have been at the best university in the world," Michaelis said. "I worked with the best players and with great coaches and many others that helped make my job easy. We have the greatest fans. We could not have had success without (the fans).

"It's an incredible honor that I share with so many. It's an overwhelming honor to have my name on the floor of a building named after a great Prophet like George Albert Smith."

Michaelis addresses fans in Legacy Hall.

A legend in women's volleyball, Michaelis retired from coaching in May 2002 ranked second all-time in Division I victories and as the overall leader among female coaches in collegiate volleyball at any level with 886 wins. Michaelis guided the BYU women's volleyball program from 1961-2002 and also served as BYU's director of women's intercollegiate athletics from 1995-2004.

"What Elaine accomplished during her career is almost unparalleled," said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe. "She built BYU into one of the elite volleyball programs in the nation while tutoring and mentoring many student-athletes and coaches during her 40 years as a coach. She is such a great person and is truly a coaching legend. With the naming of Elaine Michaelis Court, we can be inspired with a continual reminder of Elaine's great legacy."

While compiling an overall record of 886-225-5 (.792), Michaelis never suffered a losing season and finished her career with an amazing string of 28 consecutive 20-win seasons. Her teams qualified for 30 of the 33 national tournaments, including 20 of 21 NCAA tournaments. Michaelis achieved a national tournament record of 73-44 (.624), with her 1972-73 team finishing as the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national runner-up while her 1993 squad became the first BYU team to qualify for an NCAA Final Four. Only four Division I programs played in more NCAA tournaments than BYU during Michaelis' career.

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 a 13-1 league record. Overall, her teams claimed 23 conference crowns.

Under Michaelis' tutelage, 18 players earned 51 All-America awards and six players were singled out for major individual national honors, with the top award going to Mariliisa Salmi in 1986 as the Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year. Four athletes also earned seven Academic All-America awards.

On December 18, 2003, Michaelis became a member of the inaugural class inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She was named the United States Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year in 2002 and received the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award in 2001. Michaelis was honored by her peers as conference coach of the year eight times and was named the 1987 Tachikara Northwest Region Division I Coach of the Year and the 1996 NCAA District 7 Coach of the Year.

Michaelis' first involvement in BYU women's athletics was as 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 B.S. degree in physical education in 1960, she was hired to coach several BYU women's teams in 1961. She went on to earn a M.S. degree in physical education from BYU in 1962 and obtain the rank of associate professor of physical education and full athletic professional.

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

For seven seasons beginning in 1995, Michaelis served simultaneously as both women's volleyball head coach and women's athletics director. During that span, she assisted in planning many facility improvements at BYU, including Miller Park, the Indoor Practice Facility, Student Athlete Building, and renovations to the Smith Fieldhouse.

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