BYU Athletic Hall of Fame class announced for 2017 | BYU Cougar Club

BYU Athletic Hall of Fame class announced for 2017

PROVO, Utah – Brigham Young University will induct four former All-Americans and a pioneer women’s basketball coach into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 25. 

Kassi Andersen Harmon (cross country, track and field), Rachelle Smith Kunkel (diving), Courtney Leishman (coach), Josh Rohatinsky (cross country, track and field), and Erin Thorn (basketball) will be formally inducted during a ceremony hosted by the Cougar Club at the Marriott Center. The five inductees will also be honored during a special halftime presentation at the BYU vs. Portland State football game on Saturday, Aug. 26. 

Since its inception in 1975, more than 200 student-athletes, coaches, administrators, teams and broadcasters have been inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame. Among the criteria to be considered for induction are All-American status, university graduation, professional accomplishments and community service. Below is a bio on each of the 2017 hall of fame inductees. 

Former BYU distance runner Kassi Andersen Harmon secured her place in the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame due to an incredible running career at BYU and beyond. Andersen began her BYU career on the track in 2002 after redshirting the 2001 cross country season. That spring she earned All-America honors in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, her first of six USTFCCCA All-America honors in track and field. Later that year in cross country, Andersen earned All-America honors again after finishing seventh at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships. She was the second Cougar finisher on BYU’s 2002 National Championship team. 

During the 2003 track season, Andersen became the national champion in the steeplechase and earned All-America honors in the distance medley race. She also finished second in the steeplechase at the 2003 U.S. Track and Field Championships. Andersen carried that success into her sophomore year of cross country with another All-America finish. She was the second Cougar finisher on BYU’s team that took second at the 2003 NCAA National Cross Country Championships. 

In the 2004 track and field season, Andersen again earned All-America honors in the steeplechase and distance medley relay. She won the 1,500 meters at the 2004 MWC Outdoor Championships and took second in the 200 meter and the mile in the 2004 MWC Indoor Championships. 

An injury forced Andersen to redshirt the 2004 cross country season and the 2005 track and field season. She chose to serve a mission in Cleveland, Ohio, during her redshirt year.

Andersen returned from her injury and mission to claim her third All-America honor in cross country. She was the individual champion at the 2006 MWC Cross Country Championships and was named the 2006 MWC Runner of the Year. She would also earn All-America honors in the steeplechase during the track and field season her senior year.

The nine-time All-American (three in cross country, six in track and field) left a lasting legacy at BYU. Andersen went on to run professionally for Nike with an Olympic training team and competed all around the world. She has also coached many athletes in cross country and track and field at the high school and collegiate levels.

Andersen met her husband Tanner Harmon after retiring from her professional running career. They currently reside near Phoenix, Arizona, and have three girls.

A member of the BYU dive team from 1996-2000, Rachelle Smith Kunkel has taken her talents to many diving championships across the world, including the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. During her time at BYU, Kunkel was named All-Western Athletic Conference her first three years and All-Mountain West Conference her senior season. 

During the 1998-99 season, Kunkel finished second and fifth on the 1-meter and the 3-meter at the NCAA Zone E Qualifying Meet. She would go on to finish 15th in the 1-meter and 23rd in the 3-meter and at the NCAA Championships and was named a second-team All-American. That same year she competed at the U.S. Summer Nationals where she won the 1-meter event.

As a senior in 1999-2000, Kunkel had 11 first place wins in the 1-meter and the 3-meter during the regular season and helped BYU to a final national ranking of 29th. At the MWC Championships, she was named Diver of the Year for her first-place finishes in both the 1-meter and the 3-meter. In her final trip to the NCAA Championships, Kunkel placed first on the 1-meter and 3-meter at the NCAA Zone E Qualifying Meet and later placed sixth in the 1-meter at the NCAA Championships and was named a first-team All-American. 

After BYU, Kunkel was the 2002, 2003 and 2004 U.S. National Champion in the 1-meter, the 2003 World Champion in the 3-meter and the 2004 Speedo American Cup Champion in the 3-meter. In 2004, Kunkel competed in the 2004 Olympic Trials where she finished second place, earning her an invitation to Athens, Greece, as a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. While in Athens, she placed ninth in the 3-meter springboard.

Kunkel currently lives in Clovis, California, with her husband, Jeff, a pediatric dentist, whom she met at BYU. They have five children — Ryan, Maren, Andrew, Wyatt and Brynn. While diving is still a large part of her life, as she has transitioned to the coaching ranks, Kunkel has also taken up running and has competed in many Ragnar races and half marathons. 

Courtney Leishman was appointed head coach of the BYU women’s basketball team in the fall of 1977. Over the next 12 seasons, he guided the program to an overall record of 219-124, the second-most wins in BYU women’s basketball history. 

Leishman’s teams competed in postseason national tournaments in six of the 12 years he guided the program, including a third-place finish at the 1981-82 Women’s National Invitational Tournament. 

His teams recorded 20-plus wins in five seasons, including 24 victories twice, in 1979-80 and 1981-82. He was named a finalist for national coach of the year in 1980 and garnered two American Women’s Sports Foundation All-America Honor Roll Coaching Citations in 1985 and 1987. 

Under Leishman’s direction, the Cougars won six conference titles, had two second-place and two third-place finishes. Leishman was named the High Country Athletic Conference (HCAC) Co-Coach of the Year in 1985.

From 1979 to 1988, Leishman coached five BYU All-Americans, including Tina Gunn, the 1980 American Women's Sports Foundation D1 Player of the Year. Other All-Americans included Jackie Beene McBride (1980-81-82), Cindy Battistone (1985), Tresa Spaulding (1984-85-87) and Cathy Nixon (1987-88).

In his first season at the helm of the women’s program in 1977-78, Leishman guided the team to an undefeated conference season with a 13-0 mark, finishing with a 22-6 overall record, the best in school history at that time.

From 1962 to 1968 Leishman was the head coach at Brigham Young High where he recorded an 82-31 record. He later became an assistant coach for the BYU men’s basketball team, assigned to supervise academic eligibility and recruiting. In 1977, Leishman had a stint coaching the men’s basketball team at the University of Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela, before being named head coach of the BYU women’s basketball team. 

Leishman holds a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and received both his master’s and doctorate degrees from BYU. He and his family are true blue Cougars. All four of his children studied at BYU and both his daughters have been employed at BYU for more than 30 years.

During his four-year career as a Cougar, Josh Rohatinsky established himself as one of the great distance runners in BYU history.

Rohatinsky started his career with a quick pace in the fall of 2000 as he was named first-team All-Mountain West Conference and the MWC Freshman of the Year in cross country. His efforts helped the Cougars claim the MWC title and finish 23rd at the NCAA Championships.

Following his successful freshman season, Rohatinsky served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Uruguay. Rohatinsky redshirted in 2003 and returned to form in 2004 as he earned first-team All-MWC honors and claimed his first of three-straight USTFCCCA All-America honors with a 22nd place finish at the NCAA Championships.

During his junior and senior seasons, Rohatinsky took his pace to another level as he won back-to-back individual titles and MWC Runner of the Year honors at the MWC Championships in 2005 and 2006. At the NCAA Championships in 2005, Rohatinsky finished sixth overall to lead the Cougars to a fifth-place team finish, the second top-5 finish in program history.

Rohatinsky’s BYU cross country career ended on the highest note possible as he won the individual title at 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships. He joined his coach Ed Eyestone as the only individual national champions in BYU cross country history.

In addition to his success in cross country, Rohatinsky was also a decorated track athlete. At the conference level, he was a three-time conference champion (10,000 meters at the 2005 MWC Outdoor Championships and 5,000 meters at the 2007 MWC Indoor and Outdoor Championships).

Nationally, Rohatinsky was also a three-time USTFCCCA All-American. In 2005, he earned All-America honors in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships and the 10,000 meters at the Outdoor Championships. Two years later, Rohatinsky repeated as an All-American in the 10,000 meters.

Following his BYU career, Rohatinsky ran professionally for Nike from 2007-10. At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, he placed ninth in the marathon and fifth in the 10,000 meters. In 2009, Rohatinsky represented Team USA at the 2009 World Cross Country Championships.

Rohatinsky graduated from BYU in 2007 with a degree in exercise science and in 2012 he completed his MPA at BYU. He and his wife Jena have four children and live in Spanish Fork.

Women’s basketball standout Erin Thorn set several school records and garnered two All-America citations in her four seasons as a starter at BYU from 1999-2003. After graduation, Thorn was selected by the New York Liberty in the second round of the 2003 WNBA Draft and went on to play 10 seasons in the league. 

As a Cougar, Erin Thorn was a two-time All-American and four-time All-Mountain West Conference honoree. From 1999 to 2003 she was named to four-straight MWC Championship All-Tournament Teams, picking up MVP honors in 2002. In 1999, she was named the league’s freshman of the year.

A four-year starter for BYU, Thorn currently holds the school record for most career 3-pointers with 391 as well as the record for best career free-throw percentage, .860. Thorn ranks fourth all-time in assists (505), is fifth in career points (2,061), sixth in steals (236) and seventh in games played (127).

She holds the school’s season record in numerous categories as well, including 3-pointers made (108) in 2001-02 and in free-throw percentage (.916) in 2002-03. Her total of 176 assists as a senior in 2002-03 is seventh-best and her 5.7 assists per game are eighth-best in school history. 

Thorn also tied the BYU single-game record for most 3-pointers in a game with nine versus Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Dec. 14, 2001. She was also the recipient of the BYU Cougar Club Crowd Pleaser award in 2003.

After her stellar BYU career, Thorn went on to have a successful 10-year professional career in the WNBA. She was drafted as the 17th overall pick by the New York Liberty and went on to play six seasons in New York, before spending three seasons with the Chicago Sky and one year each with the Minnesota Lynx and the Indiana Fever.

In her WNBA career, Thorn played in a total of 283 games while tallying 1,348 career points for a 4.8 average per game. She also grabbed 380 rebounds, recorded 416 assists, 107 steals and 12 blocks. 

Thorn holds the league’s fifth-highest 3-point percentage among players with at least 200 attempted 3-pointers. In 2006, she led the WNBA in 3-point field goal percentage (.431) and retired with a career percentage of 37.2. She finished her WNBA career with a .883 free-throw percentage. 

Thorn also played internationally with TED Ankara in Turkey and with Tarbes Gespe Biforre in Tarbes, France. She currently works for Golden Wheat Distributing as an account manager and resides in Las Vegas.