For Dennis Wells and
Kammy Holyoak Wells, returning to their home town after being
away for over 17 years was something they’d long planned
High school sweethearts Kammy (Grand County High Class of
1981) and Dennis (Class of 1983) were married in 1984. They
are the parents of six children, five of whom are living.
Dennis and Kammy
Wells in 2007
Oldest son Shay graduated from high school in Eureka, Nev.
and recently received a bachelors degree in criminal justice
from University of Nevada at Reno. He’ll be heading
to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. this fall to attend
law school. Second son Trace graduated from GCHS in 2004,
starring on the football, wrestling, and baseball teams.
He’s now a senior at Southern Utah University in Cedar
City, and is studying to become a high school teacher and
coach. Oldest daughter Kemrey graduated from GCHS in 2007,
excelling in track and volleyball. She also was the Sterling
Scholar in English, and will soon be attending Utah Valley
University in Orem, where she plans to major in elementary
education. The family’s fourth child, Kensey, passed
away in 1995 when she was four months old. The two youngest
Wells daughters are Kayley and Kwincey, who will attend Helen
M. Knight Intermediate School this fall, in the 6th and 4th
“It’s the first time in a while that we haven’t
had any kids in high school,” said Kammy. “It
will be interesting.”
Although the whole family has been staying together in Moab
this summer, the oldest three children will soon be moving
back to college.
“It’s been fun having everyone around,” said
Kammy. She and Dennis recently drove to California and spent
a few days in Disneyland with their daughters, as sort of
a graduation present for Kemrey. It was a rare getaway for
the self-described “workaholics,” who also enjoy
fishing, camping, and waterskiing during their limited spare
Kammy and Dennis at
a high school Sadie Hawkins dance
Thinking back to their high school days, Kammy says she was
initially teased by her friends for dating a boy two years
her junior. “But he was the quarterback, and I was
the head cheerleader and homecoming queen – isn’t
that how it’s supposed to happen?” she joked.
Even so, their first date wasn’t exactly romantic – they
attended the Clint Eastwood film “Any Which Way You
Can” at the local theater, when Kammy was a senior
and Dennis was a sophomore. “Dennis’ dad actually
had to drive us there because Dennis didn’t have his
license yet,” Kammy laughed.
After her graduation, Kammy attended Utah State University
in Logan while Dennis finished high school. In 1984, shortly
after earning her associates degree in business administration
from USU, Kammy and Dennis were married. The newlyweds then
moved to Texas for a few months, then back to Salt Lake for
several more months.
At that point, Dennis decided he still wanted to play college
football, so they moved to Cedar City, where he walked on
the team at Southern Utah State College. Kammy gave birth
to Trace in Moab, then joined Dennis a couple weeks later
in Cedar, where they made their home while Dennis attended
her senior year
“I didn’t have a scholarship at first,” recalled
Dennis, adding that the team offered him a scholarship about
three games into the season.
Dennis had to juggle multiple jobs during college. At one
point, he had Kammy audiotaping some of his lectures for
him so that he could review them later during his shift as
a security guard. He also worked as an insurance telemarketer
and mentored an eight-year-old boy with behavior problems.
By his senior year, he was also assistant coaching wrestling
and football as part of his student teaching. Meantime, Kammy
was at home raising three young children, having just given
birth to Kemrey.
Dennis graduated from SUSC in 1990, majoring in secondary
education (physical education) with minors in history and
special education. Although they had a house in Cedar City,
they were unable to find a teaching job.
“There were coaching jobs, but no teaching position
to go with them,” said Dennis, noting that a similar
situation existed years later as he contemplated returning
to Moab. “I was approached over the phone and offered
a coaching job [for the Red Devils] as early as 1994,” he
said. “But there wasn’t a teaching position to
go along with it.”
Dennis Wells his
After graduating in 1990, Dennis paid a visit to Eureka,
Nev., where his parents were then living. He intended to
try for a mining job there, but instead found an opening
for a teaching and coaching position at the local high school.
He got the job, and for the next few months, he saw his family
in Cedar City on Sundays (Nevada high school football games
are played on Saturdays), then would make the 4.5-hour drive
back to Eureka early Monday morning, arriving at the school
parking lot just in time to teach his first class.
A few months later, they managed to sell their home in Cedar,
and in early January 1991, the whole family moved to Eureka,
where they ended up staying for 12 years.
While in Eureka, Dennis helped coach the Vandals to several
state titles in various sports, including seven wrestling
championships in a row. The football team also took state
twice and were runners up twice. They also won a baseball
Then, in 2002, the year Shay graduated from Eureka, Dennis
was offered a job teaching and coaching at GCHS.
Now entering his sixth year as GCHS football coach, Dennis
is looking forward to the upcoming season, which kicks off
with a home game vs. the Logan Grizzlies Aug. 17.
Dennis admits his first couple years at the helm were a struggle.
The Devils were winless in 2002, won two games the next year,
then three the following year. But then in 2005, the Red
Devils went 9-2 and took the football state championship,
the first in the history of the school. “Winning that
trophy made it all worthwhile,” said Dennis. Last year,
the Devils went 8-3, losing in the playoffs to eventual champion
San Juan. This year, Dennis expects the Red Devils to be
strong contenders yet again.
“It just took a while to teach them how to win,” said
Dennis, who also coaches wrestling and track at GCHS. “We’ve
learned how to be competitive.”
Kammy is the daughter of Gary and Patricia Holyoak, who live
next door to the Wells family. Gary, a lifelong Moab resident,
graduated from GCHS in 1956. Pat, a native of the Price area,
was elected last year to a four-year term on the Grand County
Council, her first foray into politics.
All of Kammy’s siblings attended GCHS, and two still
live in Moab (Ryan Holyoak and Kelsie Backus). Three other
siblings live out of state: Jamie Robinson (Texas), Amber
Spence (Las Vegas), and Dalin Holyoak (Washington, D.C.).
Another brother, Clynn, is deceased.
Dennis’ parents, Dennis and Gladys Wells, moved to
Moab when their three boys were starting grade school. Dennis
is the oldest, followed by Donny, then Darrin. All three
played multiple sports for the Red Devils. Darrin lives in
Moab and helps Dennis coach football, while Donny now lives
near his parents in Woodland Park, Colo.
Dennis and Kammy have many fond memories of former teachers,
including Gene Leonard, Donna Brownell, Al Heaton, John Fogg,
Ron Pierce, Ron Olsen, Tom Till and Bernie Radcliffe, to
name a few. “Many of our teachers also ended up teaching
our kids,” said Kammy. “Mr. Leonard even taught
Dennis and Kammy say that watching Trace (top all-around
athlete) and Kemrey (head cheerleader, top athlete, homecoming
queen, star of the school musical) excel at GCHS gave them
a sense of déjà vu.
“That’s part of the reason we came back, is so
that our kids could follow in our footsteps,” said
Dennis. “We’ve always been Red Devils at heart,
and we wanted our kids to be Red Devils.”
Back in high school, Kammy did cheerleading, drill team,
and was the homecoming queen. She also participated in band,
chorus, and FHA. Ever the cheerleader at heart, Kammy has
only missed attending three of the games Dennis has coached
over the past 17 years. “I’ve never missed a
home game, but I did miss a couple of away games when Kemrey
was playing volleyball,” she said.
In high school, Dennis weighed just 140 lbs. as a freshman,
but was the Red Devils’ starting quarterback all four
years. By his senior year, he was wrestling at 167 lbs. and
was the state champion his junior and senior years. His junior
year, he broke his wrist and couldn’t play baseball
that spring, so he ran track instead and established a school
record in the 100 meter dash that still stands (10.95 seconds).
Dennis was the only two-time state wrestling champ from GCHS
until he coached heavyweight Zane Taylor to three straight
titles from 2004-06. Taylor, a lineman, was also instrumental
in helping the Devils win their first football championship.
Dennis says the school’s spirit is feeling like it
used to be back when he and Kammy were in school. “To
tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed in the first
pep assembly I attended after we got back,” he said. “But
I thought, I’m here, I’m the coach, I want to
fire up the crowd. I took the microphone, and then everyone
started singing the school song with me. It really brought
back old times.”
“Our school spirit has come a long way since then,” added
Agreed Kammy: “It’s amazing what winning the
football championship did for the community’s school
spirit – everyone is a lot more excited.