The impact legendary coach Mike Candrea has made on softball in general, and at Arizona specifically, goes beyond the eight national championships with the Wildcats.
With the hiring of Rebekah Quiroz as Pima’s new softball coach last week, replacing her father Armando Quiroz, makes it eight former Wildcats who played under Candrea who are now head coaches.
Rebekah, who lettered with Arizona in 2002 after starring at Flowing Wells and Pima, is one of four head coaches at the college level who were once Wildcats. There are also four former Arizona players who are head coaches in high school (the complete list is at the bottom of this post).
“I am most humbled and honored to accept the position of head softball coach for Pima Community College,” Rebekah said. “I will do my absolute best to ensure continuity of this nationally recognized and respected program that my father (and prior coaches) have created.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve Pima College and the Tucson community that I love. I am everything I am because of my father; I am honored, and proudly carry his name through this next journey of my coaching career.”
Lute Olson and men’s basketball have the largest amount of former Arizona players as head coaches with nine, followed by softball and football with eight.
Former Arizona and CDO standout Shelley Duncan is now managing Class AA Jackson (Miss.) in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. He managed Class A Visalia (Calif.) last year. Before that in 2015 and 2016, he managed Class A Hillsboro (Ore.). He’s on a track to join Terry Francona as a major league manager some day. …
Vicky Maes not returning to coach Arizona’s women’s tennis team leaves Danielle Steinberg at Kansas State the lone former Wildcat in that sport as a head coach. …
Safford recently hired former Arizona walk-on football player Eric Hjalmerson as its new head football coach. Hjalmerson walked on with the Wildcats as a defensive back in 2000 after playing at Blue Ridge High School and Eastern Arizona College. Hjalmerson never played or lettered at Arizona.
The following is a list of the 33 former Arizona athletes who presently are head coaches:
FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES AS CURRENT HEAD COACHES
High school boy’s basketball (2)[table “” not found /]
Men’s college basketball (4)[table “” not found /]
Men’s professional basketball (3)[table “” not found /]
College baseball (2)[table “” not found /]
Professional baseball (2)[table “” not found /]
Women’s college basketball (2)[table “” not found /]
High school football (7)[table “” not found /]
College football (1)[table “” not found /]
College softball (4)[table “” not found /]
High school softball (4)[table “” not found /]
High school soccer (1)[table “” not found /]
College women’s tennis (1)[table “” not found /]
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.