SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Maxwell’s name is forever enshrined at Highland High School.
On Tuesday night, Highland’s gymnasium was given a new name — the Larry Maxwell Gymnasium. Before the Olympus-Highland game, a ceremony was held to christen the new gym, which is named after one of the most legendary coaches in Utah high school basketball history. Over his 30-plus years as head coach of the Rams’ boys basketball team, Maxwell won five state championships. He finished his coaching career with 503 victories.
Highland High School principal Chris Jenson unveiled the newest addition to the gymnasium — a plaque that bears the new name of the court.
After the unveiling of the plaque, Maxwell took the mic to thank his former players, his family and the community.
“Thank you all so much. I love all of you, especially these ballplayers. You’re all very special and I want you to know that I love you and appreciate you being here tonight,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell also thanked his family, encouraging them to stand up and be recognized.
Jenson gifted Maxwell with a replica plaque and a binder of letters from former players and the Highland High community.
Maxwell has been elated ever since he found out that Highland was naming its gym after him.
“I couldn’t believe it. They’re all so wonderful here. This has been my life. I was here 32 years and loved every minute,” Maxwell said.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was when Maxwell saw a number of his former players gathered on the baseline of the court.
“I can’t even explain it. I’ve been crying ever since I knew they were all here. They’re all so special in my life,” Maxwell said.
One of the former players there to witness the ceremony was Jeff Judkins, whose jersey hangs in the rafters of Larry Maxwell Gymnasium.
“He was so big a part of this gym. How many lives he touched, not just mine, but so many players, it was well deserved here. I’m glad we got this done, so that he could feel the love of all the players that really cared about him,” Judkins said.
Judkins reflected on his time with Maxwell at Highland, stating how much of an influence Maxwell was on him.
“First of all, he believed in me. A coach has to believe in a player, and he believed in me, gave me the opportunity to play my game and do what I needed to,” Judkins said. “He was a great coach, he started me off right. It’s important to learn the right way to play, and he did that for me. He was more than just a coach — he was a father, he was a teacher and all those things made me a lot better person,” Judkins said.
Even after he graduated, Maxwell was still there, supporting him as he played for the University of Utah and later in the NBA for the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers.
“When I got done playing here at Highland, he was very supportive, came to a lot of my games,” Judkins said.
Judkins’ favorite moment with Maxwell came in his senior season.1 comment on this story
“My favorite moment was being on this court my senior year. Funny thing, we played Olympus that night. Both of us were really good and we ended up winning the game by one point. He came up to me and said, ‘Judkins, you were a fun player to coach. Not just a great player, but you worked hard, you were a good leader and you’re a great example,’ so that probably meant the most to me,” Judkins said.
As for Maxwell, his fondest memory was just coaching every kid that came through his teams over the years.
“Just being with the kids and playing ball. Full-court press, that’s what we did. They loved it and I loved it and they worked hard,” Maxwell said.
In the first game in the newly named gym, Olympus defeated Highland 79-42. Zach Alder had 27 points and Jeremy Dowdell had 26 to lead the Titans.