Utah college athletes — past and present — who are Tokyo-bound
Over 11,000 athletes representing 206 nations will compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23 to Aug. 8, including 15 athletes with Utah college ties
The Summer Olympic Games are right around the corner.
Over 11,000 athletes representing 206 nations will compete in the Games in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23 to Aug. 8, including 15 athletes with Utah college ties.
University of Utah
Hannah Flippen (Softball, USA)
Hannah Flippen attended Utah from 2014 to 2017, starring on the Utes’ softball team. She was the Pac-12 Player of the Year twice in a row in 2016 and 2017 and ranks first all-time for Utah in batting average (.392), hits (263) and runs (197).
The infielder will be a replacement player on the 2020 Olympic squad as softball returns to the Summer Games for the first time since 2008.
Flippen has represented the USA four times: 2018 USA Softball International Cup (bronze medalist); 2017 Pan American Championship (gold medalist); 2017 World Cup of Softball (silver medalist); and 2016 World Cup of Softball.
Anissa Urtez (Softball, Mexico)
Anissa Urtez played at Utah from 2014 to 2017. Urtez was named first-team All-Pac-12 in 2016 and second-team All-Pac-12 in 2016 in 2017. She holds a .358 all-time batting average at Utah.
After her Utes career, Urtez played professionally and coached at Utah Valley University in 2018.
Urtez started at shortstop as Mexico qualified for the Olympics in 2019. It is the first time that Mexico softball has qualified for the Games.
Leilani Mitchell (Women’s basketball, Australia)
Leilani Mitchell played one season, her senior year, at Utah in 2007-08, averaging 17 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals per game. She was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2008 WNBA draft, Mitchell has carved out a 13-year career in the WNBA. She also plays in the WNBL, Australia’s women’s professional league, where she has won the championship three times and has been Finals MVP twice.
Mitchell represented Australia last in the 2016 Summer Games, as Australia advanced to the quarterfinals.
Kim Gaucher (Women’s basketball, Canada)
Kim Gaucher (ne Smith) had a fabulous career at Utah, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists over her four-year stint as a Ute from 2002 to 2006. She was named MWC Player of the Year three years in a row and is the only women’s basketball player to have her number hanging in the Huntsman Center rafters.
She played three years in the WNBA and carved out an extensive professional career overseas.
This will be the third Olympics appearance for Gaucher, who was on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams.
MyKayla Skinner (Gymnastics, USA)
MyKayla Skinner was phenomenal for the Red Rocks from 2017 to 2019. She was the NCAA floor champion in 2017 and the NCAA vault champion in 2018, while leading Utah to two Super Six appearances and three consecutive NCAA Championships appearances. She received 23 All-American honors over her career.
Skinner, who was an alternate on the USA Olympic team in 2016, will compete for the USA as an individual.
Grace McCallum (Gymnastics, USA)
Grace McCallum will be an incoming freshman to the Red Rocks program in 2021-22, and she will arrive as an Olympian.
McCallum will represent the USA as a member of the four-person main team, having qualified for the fourth spot on the squad thanks to a her performance at the USA gymnastics Olympic trials.
McCallum has represented the USA before, competing on the 2018 and 2019 World Championships teams.
Kara Eaker (Gymnastics, USA)
Kara Eaker is another incoming Red Rock freshman who will arrive on campus fresh off of an Olympic experience.
Eaker was selected to be an alternate for the United States in Tokyo.
She was a member of the 2018 and 2019 World Championships squads for the USA.
Taylor Sander (Men’s volleyball, USA)
Taylor Sander is one of BYU volleyball’s finest exports. He was AVCA All-American in all four years he played for the Cougars (2011-14) and was named the 2014 AVCA Player of the Year. He holds school records for career kills (1,743) and career service aces (182). The Cougars appeared in the national championship in 2013 and the Final Four in 2014 with Sander leading them.
He has played professionally overseas, winning the Qatari Cup, with Al Arabi Doha, and the Brazilian Cup with Sada Cruzeiro.
This will be the second Olympics for Sander, who won a bronze in 2016.
Ben Patch (Men’s volleyball, USA)
Ben Patch played for BYU in 2013 and from 2016-17, earning three NCAA runner-up finishes. He was named an AVCA first-team All-American twice.
After leaving BYU, Patch played professionally in Europe, winning the German Championship.
He competed for the USA in 2018, when he won a bronze medal at the 2018 FIVB World Championship
He will be an alternate on the USA team.
Brenden Sander (Men’s volleyball, USA)
Brenden Sander, who is Taylor Sander’s brother, played at BYU from 2015 to 2018 and was a two-time first-team AVCA All-American. He helped BYU to two NCAA runner-up finishes and a Final Four appearance.
He has played professionally in Italy and Poland. He will be an alternate on the USA team.
Jordan Matyas (Women’s rugby, USA)
Jordan Matyas played on BYU’s women’s rugby team.
She will start for the USA women’s rugby team. She played for the 2018 World Championship team, which finished fourth.
Josue Dominguez Ramos (Men’s swimming, Dominican Republic)
Josue Dominguez Ramos is a junior on BYU’s swim team. He currently holds program records in the 100 breaststroke (51.81) and 200 breaststroke (1:55.97).
It will be his first time competing at the Olympics. He qualified for the 2016 Olympics, but chose to go on a church mission instead.
Damian Lillard (Men’s basketball, USA)
Damian Lillard is the best basketball player to ever come out of Weber State and one of the best basketball players ever drafted from a Utah school. Lillard was a 2012 All-American and was a two-time Big Sky MVP.
The Portland Trail Blazers guard has carved out a stellar career as one of the NBA’s best players as a six-time All-Star and a six-time All-NBA selection, averaging 25 points per game over his career.
It will be the first Olympic appearance for Lillard, who will be a key player for Team USA.
Southern Utah University
Cameron Levins (Track and field, Canada)
Cameron Levins was on the SUU track and field team from 2007-12. He holds the program record for the 3,000-meter (8:13.74). He won the 2012 Bowerman Award, which is given to the best track and field athlete in the NCAA.
Levins has represented Canada before, at the 2012 Olympics, when he competed in the 10,000 meters and the 5,000 meters.
Salt Lake Community College
Eddy Alvarez (Baseball, USA)
Incredibly, Eddy Alvarez has already been an Olympian — in a different sport than baseball. At the 2014 Olympics, Alvarez won a silver medal for the USA as part of the 5,000-meter relay team in speedskating.
He grew up both skating and playing baseball, but focused on skating more to go to the Olympics. He played baseball for Salt Lake Community College and was signed with the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent in 2014 free agent. He now plays in the Miami Marlins organization, his hometown team. He made his MLB debut in 2020, playing 12 games for Miami with a double, two RBIs and a .189 batting average.
Baseball returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. No current MLB players on 40-man rosters are eligible to compete in the Olympics. Alvarez currently plays for the rookie-league FCL Marlins.