Don Reddish Award comes full circle

The most difficult thing about receiving the Don Reddish Award for Mike Litzinger wasn’t the countless months of coaching and training his swimming team during the 2005-2006 season. It was the brief minutes that led up to the presentation that was done during the BYU/Utah football game that proved to be the most trying.

“The hard part was waiting to go out there on the field to be recognized because I was right in front of the BYU section, so I was catching a little flak,” Litzinger said.

It seems that last year’s swimming season is continuing to pay dividends for Litzinger. Having already been recognized as the 2006 Mountain West Conference Swimming Coach of the Year, largely due to the women’s portion of the swimming team going undefeated in conference play, the Don Reddish Award is further recognition of Litzinger’s accomplishments, and he could not be more thrilled to accept such an award.

“It is quite an honor for me, especially since the award is named after our former swimming coach here, who’s kind of a coaching legend in his own right here at Utah.”

Don Reddish was the U’s swimming coach from 1949 to 1990, and during those 41 years he racked up 17 conference titles behind a 267-84 record.

The award that bares Reddish’s name is handed out annually to the top non-football, non-basketball coach at the U.

Now in his seventh year as coach of the Swimmin’ Utes, Litzinger has turned around both women’s and men’s swimming programs.

After the women went 2-7 and the men 0-6 during his first year as head coach, Litzinger has led both sides to winning records in each of the last three seasons.

During that stretch the women have won three straight conference titles, which happen to be the only conference titles for the women since their inaugural 1982 season.

On that same token, the men are just one year removed from their first conference championship since 1995.

It is fitting that this year, the award that is named for a man who elevated the U swimming team in its infancy was given to the man who has resurrected the program to the stature that it once was.