07272017
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2016 Person of the Year: The Short List

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As Utah Valley Magazine kicks off 2016, we’ve launched a new annual feature: Person of the Year! Although we chose the Gardner family with their double set of identical twins as our inaugural recipients, we also had a “short list” of other contenders. Here are some faces to watch in 2016.

A Head Start: Kalani Sitake

Kalani Sitake is the new head football coach at BYU.

Kalani Sitake is the new head football coach at BYU.

As the first Tongan to be named a collegiate head football coach, Kalani Sitake instantly became the most famous person in Provo. Bronco Mendenhall’s replacement carries the weight of the Cougar future on his running back shoulders. This 40-year-old’s first name means “a gift sent from heaven,” and BYU fans hope he lives up to this moniker.

Kalani comes most recently from Oregon State, where he was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. His playing days included being team captain for BYU in 2000.

“It’s a dream come true for me to return home,” Kalani says. “I love the university and what it stands for and I’m looking forward to helping the young men in the program reach their goals athletically, academically and spiritually.”

Head of the Glass: Tom Holdman

Tom Holdman is working on a stained-glass exhibit for Utah Valley University.

Tom Holdman is working on a stained-glass exhibit for Utah Valley University called “Roots of Knowledge.”

The world’s leading stained glass artist is shattering all pre-conceived notions about his chosen field, and 2016 is the year the world will take notice. His 80-panel “Roots of Knowledge” project will be installed at UVU. The most ambitious glass project of all time dictates the history of the world, with intricate details and symbolism that viewers can’t take in during one visit.

This colorful story of mankind in glass will include computer apps to learn about each portrayal of key historic moments.

Tom says the purpose of this 200-foot project is to “unite the world around the lessons of the past that inspire us to unitedly make a brighter future.”

Tom is still raising money to give his “roots” financial wings. For more information, visit holdmanstudios.com

Engaged Leadership: Matt Holland

Matt Holland is the president of Utah Valley University.

Matt Holland is the president of Utah Valley University.

When Matt Holland took over as president of UVU in 2009, the university was struggling with low budgets and a growing student body. Holland rallied the community, the legislature, and his staff to maximize and streamline the student experience. Now UVU is the largest institution of higher education in Utah, with 33,211 students registered for Fall 2015 semester.

UVU is acing tests the board, including being one of the top 5 schools in the nation for Latino students. More than 3,200 Latino students are enrolled at UVU, which is a result of strategic and consistent effort by Holland and his staff.

Holland is also known for his engaging speaking style, his sense of humor at the podium, and his likeness to his father, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whether he stays at UVU is one reason to watch Holland in 2016.

Sing it, Sister!: Tiffany Alvord

Tiffany Alvord

Tiffany Alvord is a YouTube sensation.

With nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers and 500 million views, Tiffany Alvord is one of the most well-known faces, voices and personalities in the new online celebrity platform. This performer splits time between Provo and California, as she writes music, performs live shows and interacts with fans.

She partnered with YouTube celebs to create a “Silent Night” YouTube video (#ASaviorIsBorn).

This 23-year-old posted her first video when she was 15 and has steadily grown a worldwide following, which has led to New Year’s Eve performances in Times Square and worldwide performances.

Follow Tiffany on social media to see glimpses of Utah landmarks and her latest musical collaborations.

50 Irons in the Fire: James Lawrence

James Lawrence completed 50 iron-distance triathlons in all 50 states over 50 consecutive days.

James Lawrence completed 50 iron-distance triathlons in all 50 states over 50 consecutive days.

Better known as the “Iron Cowboy,” James Lawrence did the impossible in 2015. He crossed the finish line in 50 iron-distance triathlons in all 50 states over 50 consecutive days. In July in his home state of Utah, James completed his 50th straight day of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

Throughout his 50 days of miracles, he averaged 15 hours of movement per day. A support crew and occasional IVs kept him navigating both physical and emotional obstacles.

James says his motivation is to inspire others to be more active and to embrace the impossible. He particularly wants to raise awareness of childhood obesity, and he encouraged families throughout the country to run a 5K alongside his marathon. At his final event in Utah, hundreds turned out to run in stride with the Iron Cowboy.

A documentary on the 50-50-50 journey is in the works.

Learn about our first Person of the Year — the Gardner Quad Squad — here.

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