BYU’s Sitake experiences success at annual Kidney Foundation golf benefit
SANDY — There were a pair of firsts at the Coaches Legacy Invitational Golf Tournament on Monday.
The event, which benefits the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho (NKFUI), has featured a golfing duel between the head football coaches of BYU and Utah since 1989, when LaVell Edwards took on Jim Fassel.
This year, Utes coach Kyle Whittingham reportedly received an urgent phone call about a hot recruit coming to town and had to leave in the middle of the round.
Deen Vetterli, the CEO of the NKFUI, said that has never happened in the history of the tournament.
Another first: BYU coach Kalani Sitake’s foursome defeated the Utah foursome, thanks to Cougar golfer Angus Klintworth’s eagle putt on the final hole.
Around 90 golfers took the course at Hidden Valley Country Club, including Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and former BYU greats Robbie Bosco and Wally Joyner. David Trimble, president of the NKFUI, said, “this is the 35th tournament and we could not have had a better day or better weather.”
The National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho is a major voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to preventing diseases of the kidney, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.
Scalley filled in ably for Whittingham, winning a new golf bag for having the longest drive of the tournament. He gave his prize to a Utah fan who was in attendance.
About his golf game, Sitake said, “I play better when I’m playing with a great golfer. For some reason, that helps my game a lot. I like to play and I like to be around the golf course with people. We’re multi-taskers so we can listen to music, organize our schedule and golf at the same time. I like being out with people and doing something different. I like that you can compete against yourself.”
Sitake said he was anxious to leave at the conclusion of the banquet and get back down to Provo, where is coaching staff is conducting summer football camps.
“June is really busy,” he said. “A lot of official visits and camps. Now evening are tied up, too, so it’s a lot of work but it will make the vacation in July even better.”
Sitake and his staff have been busy in the transfer portal, where they’ve brought in more than 20 new players to fill the roster for 2023.
“We knew going into it what we needed to provide depth and create competition at each position group,” he said. “We had something in mind for what we wanted to accomplish in the portal and I think we got most of it done. We’ll have to rely on some young guys to step up in different places. But right now I feel good about the whole group.
“Offensively and defensively, we knew ARod (offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick) and Jay (new defensive coordinator Jay Hill) would have some thoughts on how they wanted to get better as a unit. Also, KPop (new defensive coach Kelly Poppinga) has his stuff ready and together for special teams. So it was just a matter of us putting it together and having a great offseason from now until camp starts.”
While the emphasis right now is on high school football recruits, Sitake said the Cougars are always ready for change.
“You’re really never done because you’ll take a great player at anytime, but we’re really pounding the pavement now, because we did that in spring,” he said. “I feel like we’re in a really good spot now. We’ll focus on the high school football recruits but then you never know. That’s how this thing goes. It could change at any moment.”
Sitake said he hasn’t completed all of the hires needed for the new strength and conditioning program but said he’s gotten very positive feedback from the players on the changes. Sports scientists Skylar Mayne and Coleby Clawson are coordinator the efforts, along with new director of strength and conditioning Ryan Phillis, who was hired in May from Louisville.