For nearly two decades Michele Fellows Lewis has woken up and greeted her husband Chad Lewis, an NFL All-Pro, member of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, and the father of her children. After Tuesday, she will also be a member of that same hall of fame: Pass the milk, dear.
Since both are in the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame, this is their second such hall of fame honor. How many husband-wife combos can put that on a loan application?
Michele will be inducted Tuesday during ceremonies at EnergySolutions Arena. The 2013 class will include some of the state’s biggest names, including Jim McMahon, Ron McBride, Billy Casper and Marv Fleming. Chad Lewis was inducted a year ago.
Michele played for the BYU women's volleyball program at its zenith in the early 1990s and was the captain of a Cougars squad that reached the NCAA Final Four. As an All-American, Michele led BYU to an 84-12 mark her last three years.
I asked her retired coach, Elaine Michaelis, what stood out about Michele and quickly learned why it would be hard for Chad to slack off doing yard work or honey-do lists around their Cedar Hills home.
“The best contribution she made to our team was her leadership,” said Michaelis. “She set the standard in practice every day and she wouldn’t let anybody not give their best in practice. They only had one bad practice the entire year and her leadership was the primary reason.”
Michele played on a soccer team with her twin brother Mark when they were 5.
“I was the only girl on the team. Soccer was my favorite sport until ninth grade. That’s when I started playing volleyball.” Her father taught her how to throw a baseball when she was 7.
Driven, competitive, positive, a natural leader and real-life force. Say these things about Chad and you can repeat them about Michele. On the surface, this is a programmable Stepford couple, designed and created for success.
In reality, they’re simply old-fashioned solid. And athletics have shaped their lives in a big way.
Together, they’ve brought seven children into this world. They include Emily, 17; Sarah, 15; Jake, 12; Jeff, 9; Max, 7 and twins Tanner and Todd, 4. Don’t take on the Lewis clan in any kind of game that involves a ball. Even checkers could be dangerous.
“I met Chad in the athletic training room in the summer of ‘93 right before my senior season and his freshman season,” said Michele. “He asked me out a few weeks later and we dated during our seasons by attending each other's games. He would even have his brother, Mike, pick me up so that I didn't have to find my own way to his game. On our third date, we spent an hour out on the field at Cougar Stadium looking through the grass for his hard contact that had popped out during the game a few hours earlier.”
Early in their marriage, the NFL asked Chad to be the league’s ambassador to China. He’s that kind of person. I once commented that he could make a street light seem dim when he stood beside it.
“I'm constantly amazed by Chad's high energy, enthusiastic, optimism for life,” said Michele, when asked if he was always so upbeat and positive.
“He really is like that all the time. Sometimes it even drives me crazy. Like when I call him to tell him our twin 3-year-old boys have destroyed the bathroom, written on half the clothes in our closet with a Sharpie, and taken scissors to the unopened mail, and he says, "That's awesome! I love those boys! Tell them I'll be home in a few hours to jump on the trampoline with them!"
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