Distinguished Alumnus: Chris Young

By Murray Evans (89)

Chris Young was walking across a parking lot at Oklahoma Christian in 2000 when OC tennis coach Kris Miller said, “Hey, I want to talk to you about something.”

That something ended up being an offer to be an OC assistant coach. To this day, Chris isn’t quite sure what his coach saw in him, but whatever it was, Miller proved prescient in his assessment.

Fast forward to today, and Chris has become one of the nation’s top tennis coaches, playing a key part in OC’s first national championship in 2003, turning around the program at Wichita State, and guiding Oklahoma State to an NCAA runnerup finish this year.

“OC has impacted my life in a lot of ways, with mentors and people that have inspired me. I owe a lot to the people there and the education I received there.” Chris Young

Young will be honored at Homecoming as OC’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus. As a freshman out of Norman High School, Young initially attended Lipscomb University, but transferred home to OC a year later.

He competed alongside some of the best players in OC history, including OC Athletic Hall of Famer Sam Winterbotham (now the head men’s tennis coach at Tennessee), and helped the Eagles to three straight top-five NAIA finishes.

He also came under the influence of coaches like Miller and head basketball coach Dan Hays, professors such as current Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller, Philip Patterson, Larry Jurney, and Jim Baird, and peers like baseball star Clint Vaughn and basketball standouts Jay Mauck and Rob Seat.

Chris said he treasures the relationships from his time at OC, and he remains fiercely loyal to his alma mater.

He and his wife, Sarah (English 99), still enjoy visiting the campus, bringing their children to Spring Sing or athletic events and telling them about the “good times” at OC.

“OC has been a part of my family for a long time,” Young said. “To go to OC, represent OC in athletics and coach there, that was a big goal for us and for me. OC has impacted my life in a lot of ways, with mentors and people that have inspired me. I owe a lot to the people there and the education I received there.”

Chris returned to his home state in 2010 to coach at OSU because he “wanted to come back and do some things for the state of tennis in Oklahoma, to make an impact.” He’s done that and more.

“Chris is a multi-talented young coach,” said Mike Holder, OSU’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics. “He’s shown the ability to coach at the highest level. His fundraising skills resulted in the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center, which has been a game-changer for our program. Chris has his team positioned to win the first NCAA championship for a women’s sport at OSU.”

That’s no exaggeration. Young was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2016 after guiding the Cowgirls to their first league title in 13 seasons. In the NCAA tournament, OSU knocked off No. 5 Georgia, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 1 California to reach the title match.

“It was very rewarding to be in that position and to represent a lot of things, to represent a lot of people,” Young said. “I was excited for the team, for the program, for Oklahoma State, for Oklahoma Christian, for a lot of people that were able to be there in that moment and to celebrate it with us, together. That was a great day for the state of tennis in Oklahoma and it was the reason why I came back.”