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The City Journals

Former Highland basketball coach honored with naming of gym

Jan 29, 2019 04:25PM ● By Spencer Belnap

Coach Larry Maxwell holding up his special plaque, dedicating Highland’s main gym to be renamed Maxwell Gymnasium. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)

By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected] 

As of Jan. 15, Highland High School has a new name for their main gymnasium. In honor of their former basketball coach, Larry Maxwell, they officially changed the name to Maxwell Gymnasium.

Before the Rams faced off against Olympus that night in basketball, a special dedication ceremony was held with Coach Maxwell, Highland principal staff, and former basketball players.

“A state championship in basketball is a truly great feat,” Highland Principal Chris Jenson said as he presented the coach with a commemorative plaque. “Coach Maxwell’s team won five Utah titles over his 31 year service to Highland High School.”

The coach’s legacy and influence on his players was evident as dozens gathered near him on the court. Some have gone on to coaching careers of their own like former player Jeff Judkins, who is now head coach of BYU’s women’s basketball team.

“Coach, you touched so many lives,” Judkins said during the ceremony. “And I think we can all say that we learned so many things from you. I’ll just name a few otherwise we’ll be here all night. You taught us how to win, you taught us how to not give up on ourselves, you taught us to always do our best. You taught us to shoot, that’s for sure.” 

Judkins’ statements and all the nodding heads from other players reflect how much Maxwell cared for his teams. He always wanted to see them achieve success both on and off the court. 

“I want you to know how special each of you are to me,” Maxwell said as he faced dozens of admiring faces. “And that I love you.” 

Maxwell had no idea this honor was coming to him until it had already been approved. Jenson conducted a survey with teachers and the Highland community last year before proposing the official name change to the Salt Lake City School District. Those surveyed all agreed it would be a great name change, and a great way to honor one of their most esteemed leaders. Maxwell is the fifth most winningest coach in Utah high school basketball history. 

A new plaque adorns the Maxwell Gymnasium walls detailing the coach’s legacy. It ends with an inspiring quote from the honoree himself:

“A lot can be accomplished, when no one cares who gets the credit.”