Her last name — Darling — is appropriate because she really is a darling to Southern Arizona basketball when it comes to her importance with the girls basketball landscape in these parts.
No head coach in the Tucson-area in all sports at all levels — high school, Pima College or the University of Arizona — has the kind of background Sue Darling has as a coach.
Her head coaching stops include NAU, Air Force, Pima College, Amphi, Salpointe Catholic, Denver Mullen High School and now Catalina Foothills. She was an assistant at her alma mater Arizona (where she was a team captain in 1980-81 and 1981-82), ASU, St. John’s, Dartmouth, Northwestern and the professional team Seattle Reign.
Darling’s odyssey included a four-year break from 2005 to 2008 to become a police officer at Boulder, Colo. After a bout with breast cancer, she said she took a step back and pursued her dream of working in criminal justice after desiring to be in the FBI when she was younger. But she developed an itch to return to coaching and was hired by former Arizona head coach Niya Butts to be an assistant in 2008.
Here is Darling’s coaching background after graduating from CDO in 1978 and earning her bachelors degree in education at Arizona in 1983:
Pima College assistant 1983-84
Salpointe head coach 1984-85
Pima College head coach 1985-86
St. John’s graduate assistant 1986-88 (earned her Master’s degree in business administration in marketing at St. John’s)
Amphi head coach 1988-90
ASU assistant 1990-91
Dartmouth assistant 1991-93
ASU assistant 1993-96
Seattle Reign assistant 1996-97
Air Force head coach 1998-2001
Northwestern assistant 2002-04
Denver Mullen head coach 2004-05
Arizona assistant 2008-12
NAU head coach 2012-16
Catalina Foothills head coach 2017-present
She also finds time to coach the Utterback Middle School boys basketball team.
In this video, Darling comments about her coaching background, her brief time as a police officer, coaching in Tucson again and her vision for the improvement of girls basketball in Southern Arizona.
Darling is one of 37 former Arizona athletes who are now head coaches. Here is a complete list of those active coaches:
FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES WHO ARE HEAD COACHESList of head coaches of various sports and different levels who competed at Arizona.
|Amy Baray-Rocha||1999||Salpointe Catholic HS||Softball||2015|
|Adia Barnes||1995-99||Arizona||Women's hoops||2016|
|Marcus Bell||1996-99||Eagar Round Valley HS||Football||2011|
|Matt Brase||2003-05||Haiti National Team||Men's hoops||2017|
|Robert Bonillas||1995-98||Desert View HS||Football||2012|
|Tod Brown||1990-94||North Dakota State||Baseball||2007|
|Jackie Coburn||2002-05||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Softball||2013|
|Sue Darling||1978-82||Catalina Foothills HS||Girls hoops||2017|
|Jay Dobyns||1982-84||Tanque Verde HS||Football||2020|
|Byron Evans||1983-86||South Mountain HS||Football||2020|
|Terry Francona||1977-80||Cleveland Indians||MLB||2013|
|Brenda Frese||1989-93||Maryland||Women's hoops||2002|
|Jason Hisey||1988-91||Canyon del Oro HS||Baseball||2019|
|Krista Humphreys||1993-96||Corona (CA) Centennial HS||Softball||2015|
|Stacey Iveson||1986-89||Israel National Team||Softball||2019|
|Mark Keel||1979-82||Silverdale (WA) Central Kitsap HS||Football||2000|
|Steve Kerr||1983-88||Golden State Warriors||NBA||2014|
|Michael Klyce||2004-08||Los Angeles Locke HS||Football||2017|
|David Landrith||1980-83||Pusch Ridge HS||Baseball||2019|
|Hunter Long||2013-15||Douglas HS||Football||2019|
|Michael Lopez||2009-12||Big Spring (TX) Howard JC||Baseball||2020|
|Paige Maggio||2013-16||Mountain View HS||Girls soccer||2018|
|Jennifer Martinez||2008-09||Abraham Baldwin (GA) JC||Softball||2017|
|Scott McKee||1999-02||Sahuaro HS||Football||2009|
|Craig McMillan||1984-88||Santa Rosa (CA) JC||Men's hoops||2000|
|Richard Mercado||2002-04||Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS||Baseball||2019|
|Leighton Milton||1992-93||Hollywood (CA) HS||Football||2020|
|Edwin Mulitalo||1995-98||Southern Virginia||Football||2018|
|Ronnie Palmer||2005-08||Monterrey Peninsula (CA) JC||Football||2020|
|Josh Pastner||1996-00||Georgia Tech||Men's hoops||2016|
|Jody Pruitt||1990-93||Peoria Sunrise Mountain HS||Softball||2011|
|Rebekah Quiroz||2002||Pima CC||Softball||2019|
|Danielle Steinberg||2005-09||Colorado||Women's tennis||2018|
|Gina Snyder||2018-19||Manatee (FL) Squeeze||Softball||2020|
|Jason Stewart||1997-99||Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito HS||Boys hoops||2014|
|Damon Stoudamire||1992-95||Pacific||Men's hoops||2016|
|Luke Walton||1999-03||Sacramento Kings||NBA||2019|
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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.