Larry Gelwix

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Larry Gelwix, Mormon rugby coach
Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Larry Gelwix is the rugby coach at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, who was immortalized in the feature film, Forever Strong. He coached through 36 years, 3,500 players, a 418-10 record, and 20 national championships, building the character of the boys with whom he worked in the process. Gelwix is said to be very demanding of his athletes and wins instant respect for his high standards. He expects his athletes to adhere to a non-negotiable honor code that includes, among other things, avoiding alcohol, tobacco and drugs. He also expects his players to be faithful to their own religious convictions, and to make decisions that will serve them in the future.

Gelwix was born in 1950 in Oakland, California. He interrupted his college education at Brigham Young University to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Central States. He earned a BA and MA from Brigham Young University in Organizational Communication. He also played rugby for three years at BYU under coaches from New Zealand. After earning his degrees, he started to teach Seminary in a Church-owned building next to Highland High, and coached football and wrestling on the side. Since he had played rugby, he decided to start a team. Gelwix resigned from his seminary post after four years to start his travel agency.

"Gelwix became a co-owner of Morris Travel, which operated travel agencies throughout the western United States. Gelwix and his partners sold Morris Travel in 1995, at which time Morris had 50+ offices and over 400 employees. Following the sale of Morris Travel, Gelwix was hired as CEO of WinAir Airlines, a charter airline operating nine 737 aircraft. In 2000, Gelwix and former business partner, Mark Faldmo, formed Columbus Travel, headquartered in Bountiful, Utah. Columbus Travel has become one of the largest and most successful travel agencies in Utah and won the "Best of State" award three times as the "best travel agency in the state of Utah" and was named by Mark Travel Corporation (one of the largest tour operators in the world) as one of the "Top 10 Travel Agencies" in the country. Columbus has been awarded numerous other honors, distinctions, and citations in the travel industry." [1]

Gelwix has been an on-air radio talk show host for 20+ years (12 years at KSL and 8 years syndicated by Clear Channel Communications). Gelwix is also the feature on the "Getaway Guru" segment broadcast weekly on KUTV channel 2, the CBS network affiliate in Utah, Idaho, and western Wyoming. Gelwix serves as CEO of Columbus Travel.

Gelwix was called by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve as a Mission President in Fresno, California, a three-year span of service that began in June 2011.

Gelwix began his coaching career inauspiciously. Only a handful of players showed up for try-outs, and virtually none were athletes. At the time of his retirement, 200 boys a year were trying out for Highland's rugby team. Off the field, Gelwix went on to own one of the top travel agencies in the West. The feature film, Forever Strong, starring Sean Astin and Gary Cole, made him a recognizable hero. Gelwix says he has found that "sleep is over-rated." At one point, he was simultaneously running his travel agency, coaching the team and serving as a bishop.