Arizona Baseball

Married or engaged couples who were Arizona Wildcats athletes

EDITOR NOTE:’s Andy Morales and Anthony Gimino contributed to this report.

McKale Center is a place where Arizona athletes bond to achieve a common goal of prosperity.

That bond includes husband and wife.

Before the football program moved to the Lowell-Stevens Facility and the baseball team went off campus to Hi Corbett Field, all of the athletes and coaches were under one roof at all times with the offices, locker rooms and weight training facility at McKale Center.

Athletes still spend time together at McKale Center because of school, workouts and sporting events.


To some of the Wildcats who met at the mecca of Arizona sports, the bond extended to an athlete of a different sport and became intimate. They became husband and wife or are engaged to be that way soon.

The marriage matches made at McKale are numerous.

The total could be at least one more if former Sabino High School standout J.J. Hardy remained committed to Arizona and did not turn pro after his second-round selection in 2001. On Dec. 7, 2013, Hardy, of the Baltimore Orioles, married former Marana High School and Arizona softball player Adrienne Acton. She played for the Wildcats from 2005-08.

The story goes that Hardy met Acton after watching her play on TV when the Wildcats were in the 2007 College World Series. Hardy called his connections at Arizona the following day and arranged a meeting with Acton. Their relationship blossomed from the start.

Another close Wildcat match: Former Arizona softball player Amy Chellevold married Michael Hillenbrand, the son of the late Bill Hillenbrand, who donated the money for the softball stadium at Arizona.



News of Mesa Desert Ridge defensive end/receiver Jalen Harris committing to Rich Rodriguez’s football program brought along with it that his parents are former Desert Swarm defense member Sean Harris and Arizona women’s basketball standout Cha-Ron Walker.



Lute Olson’s granddaughter Julie Brase met Mike Hairgrove at Arizona when they were playing their respective sport. Julie was with the Arizona women’s basketball program from 1998 to 2002 after playing at Catalina Foothills. Mike was a wide receiver for the Wildcats after playing at Flowing Wells. Julie is an assistant coach with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The couple has three young daughters Madison, Hailey and Grace.



Former Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore proposed to former Wildcat softball player Callista Balko at Hillenbrand Stadium, where Balko was part of the 2006 and 2007 national title teams. Elmore proposed to her at the spot he first laid eyes on her when she warmed up in Arizona’s bullpen as a catcher. (Elmore/Balko photo)



The year 2012 was special for Rob Refsnyder, who was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series in Arizona’s title run. His relationship with Arizona’s All-American swimmer Monica Drake also blossomed that year after they started dating in November of 2011.


David Watson.

David Watson Jr. (Andy Morales/

Former Arizona offensive tackle David Watson and softball slugger Laura Espinoza tied the knot in January of 1997. Espinoza-Watson, head coach for the ASA national championship 18U Arizona Ally Cats, still holds the NCAA season record for 37 home runs and 128 RBIs. Their son David Watson Jr., an Amphi High School offensive lineman standout, has committed to play at Arizona.



Another Arizona softball hall of famer, Alison Johnsen, married a Wildcat football player (offensive tackle Ian McCutcheon) in 1997. At the time of her induction into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame last year, Johnsen-McCutcheon held the Wildcats’ records for season batting average (.534), career batting average (.466), hits in a season (132), career hits (405), career triples (22), stolen bases in a season (67 in 70 attempts) and career stolen bases (95 in 98 attempts). Alison’s career total of 405 hits makes her the only Arizona softball player in the program’s history to eclipse the 400 mark. Ian was a valuable offensive tackle during the mid-1990’s helping to protect quarterback Dan White. (McCutcheon photo)


Charlie Dickey

Charlie Dickey

Charlie Dickey met former Arizona women’s hoops player Lisa Bradshaw when he was a starting offensive guard with the Wildcats football team in the early 1980’s. Bradshaw played for the Wildcats from 1983-85. The couple has five children, including daughter Tasha, who played her first three years at Arizona before transferring to Kansas State, where Charlie is the offensive line coach under Bill Snyder.



Jody Miller is another Arizona softball hall of famer who tied the knot with a fellow Wildcat athlete — Don Pruitt — who was a good prospect coming out of Jerry Kindall’s baseball program in 1990. Don was a pitcher and Jody was a catcher, a perfect combination. Don was drafted in the 23rd round by Milwaukee in 1990 and pitched three years in the Brewers’ farm system. Jody was literally a catch for Pruitt. She caught 14 no-hitters in her illustrious career playing for Mike Candrea from 1990-93. (Miller-Pruitt photo)



Mary Klemm was a highly recruited basketball player out of Ventura, Calif., who fortunately for her future, chose Arizona over ASU among other schools. It was at Arizona where Mary met Cullen Plousha, a former Marine who played wide receiver for the Wildcats in 1994 at age 27. Klemm’s father served during the Vietnam War and planned to keep his family there if the outcome of the war was different. You can say the Klemm-Plousha bond was really meant to be. Their son Cullen Plousha Jr. is a highly-accomplished golfer in the San Diego area. (Klemm-Plousha photo)



Leah Braatz, a four-time first-team All-American softball player at Arizona from 1995-98, met former Wildcat linebacker Stadford Glover on campus. Stadford played for Dick Tomey from 1997-99. They have two sons and a daughter. The family lives in the Phoenix area. (Braatz-Glover photo)



While playing softball for Arizona, Erika Hanson met her husband, Andy Barnes, a former Wildcat golfer. Their wedding party included three Arizona golfers, five softball players, one female swimmer and three male swimmers. Softball coach Mike Candrea and golf coach Rick LaRose spoke at the reception. Erika was part of the 2001 national championship softball team. She graduated in 2001 with a B.S. in Communications and a minor in American Sign Language and was a NFCA Scholar-Athlete All-American. She joined the athletic department administration in 2005 and was elevated to senior associate athletic director after the retirement of long-time administrator Rocky LaRose. She was Arizona’s interim athletic director after Greg Byrne left for Alabama. (Barnes photo)


Much of Tedy Bruschi’s strength through a long football career and overcoming a stroke can be attributed to former Arizona volleyball player Heidi Bomberger. He met Bomberger at Arizona after she starred at Sahuaro High School. Tedy and Heidi married in 1997 — a good year for Arizona athlete marriages with as many as three taking place. In his book “Never Give Up” Tedy credits Heidi for getting his life on track from a bout with alcoholism, including while at Arizona. He describes her as a hero. The following picture shows Heidi with their kids standing by Tedy when he was honored by the New England Patriots in 2010.



Luke Walton met his bride Bre Ladd at McKale Center in 2002 when Walton was starring for Lute Olson’s program and Ladd was a standout for David Rubio’s volleyball team. They did not start dating until three years later. With his pro basketball career winding down, Luke proposed to Bre on Christmas Eve of 2012. Their wedding was in Aspen, Colo., on Aug. 17, 2013, with the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop. Former Arizona teammate Richard Jefferson was Walton’s best man. (Ladd-Walton photo)



Thank goodness former Arizona left-handed pitcher Tony Milo stuck it out and attended Arizona in 1996 rather than go pro after the New York Mets drafted him in the seventh round that year. Tony and Arizona softball prospect Katie Swan started playing at the same time as freshmen in 1996, when they met at McKale Center. They dated throughout their productive Arizona careers and later married in 2004.



Former Arizona quarterback Nick Foles became engaged to his longtime girlfriend, former Wildcat volleyball standout Tori Moore, in February 2014. They were married shortly thereafter. They dated since their days at Arizona from 2009 to 2011. Foles, Arizona’s most prolific career passer who is now back with the Philadelphia Eagles, told the media that Tori is like another coach who motivates him. “She’s an athlete as well, so she knows how it goes,” Foles said. “She pushes to make me better.”



Former Arizona basketball player Ed Stokes and highly-touted swimmer Christy Carolin met during their Wildcat careers in the early 1990s. Carolin, from Capistrano Valley, Calif., began her Arizona swimming career a year after Stokes started playing for Lute Olson after prepping in Los Angeles. The couple and their three children now live in Scottsdale.



Harvey Mason met Arizona volleyball player Jeannine Sharp when they attended Arizona in the late 1980’s. Mason’s career after basketball has blossomed into a successful one in the entertainment business as a six-time Grammy Award-winning American songwriter, record producer and movie producer. Jeannine has been supportive of his endeavors from the start. Their son Trey was a walk-on basketball player at Arizona. He is the first offspring of two Arizona athletes showcased to play for the Wildcats. They also have a daughter named Mia, who is a sand volleyball player with Arizona.


The Buechler family from left to right: Brynn, Jud, Reily and Lindsey. (Buechler family photo)

The Buechler family from left to right: Brynn, Jud, Reily and Lindsey. (Buechler family photo)

Talk about volleyball genes, former Arizona basketball player Jud Buechler and Wildcat volleyball player Lindsey Hahn passed that on to their daughter Reily, who is on scholarship at UCLA. Jud played professionally in beach volleyball tours after his 12-year NBA career came to an end. Lindsey and Jud attended Arizona at the same time from 1986 to 1990. Lindsey recorded a final career total of 1,155 digs (second in Arizona’s record book) and 1,939 assists (sixth).



Joe Longacre is one of three Arizona offensive linemen to tie the knot with a fellow Wildcat athlete in this slideshow. Joe and former Arizona soccer standout Shaylyn Scott, who also goes by Rae Richelle, were married March 7. Shaylyn was a member of Arizona’s 2004 Pac-10 championship team as a freshman. Longacre was a stalwart on the line as a right guard from 2005 to 2008 protecting quarterback Willie Tuitama. The couple now resides in Katy, Texas, Joe’s hometown. Shaylyn is a teacher and Joe works with a non-profit regional health care provider.


(Palmer-Schutzler photo)

Ronnie Palmer was a four-year starting linebacker for the Wildcats from 2005-08 and was chosen a team captain while leading his team to Arizona’s first bowl game in 10 years (Las Vegas Bowl in 2008). He earned his bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences from Arizona in 2009. Lauren Schutzler was a four-year starter in center field for Arizona, making three Women’s College World Series appearances. She graduated from the Arizona in 2011 with a major in history and minor in sociology. The Palmers, who married two years ago, were both graduate assistants for their respective sports at Colorado State. Ronnie left to be the defensive line/special teams coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville.


(Horton-Owens photo)

Donald Horton, the assistant strength and conditioning coach at N.C. State, was a four-year letterwinniner and two-year starter at defensive tackle at Arizona. He played in two bowl games and was a nominee for the Pac-10 Sportsmanship Award in 2010 and was nominated for the NCAA Leadership Conference. Originally from DeSoto, Texas, he earned his B.S. in family studies from Arizona in 2010. Owens was a standout outside hitter for David Rubio’s volleyball program for four years until 2010 and has continued to play overseas as a pro. They were married in May 2012 and have a son named Josiah.


Kenzie Fowler, the former Canyon del Oro and Arizona softball pitching standout, is engaged to two-time All-Pac-12 selection Kyle Quinn, a former Wildcat offensive lineman. Fowler now is commentator on softball games for the Pac-12 Network. Quinn is a graduate assistant with the football program who works mostly with the offensive line. Fowler and Quinn dated for more than six years until Quinn proposed to Fowler, who posted the above photo on her Facebook page.


Kristen Arriola and CJ Parrish

We got word of an engagement between former softball standout Kristen Arriola and football player CJ Parish from Fowler, through a Tweet. Arriola was part of Mike Candrea’s program from 2009-12 as a second baseman. Parish played linebacker for Mike Stoops from 2008-11. Parish played on the same defensive line (as an end) with Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D’Aundre Reed as a senior in 2011.


Former Arizona gymnast Deanna Graham and baseball player Nathan Sherman were married in 2014. Sherman signed as a catcher for Andy Lopez’s team in 2011 out of Scottsdale Chaparral. Before he could contribute, he was forced to retire due to a torn ACL. Graham is a native Tucsonan who graduated from Desert Christian High School. She was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week three times. In 2011, she qualified in the All Around for the NCAA Championships and was named 1st Team Pac-10 All-Conference in the All Around in 2010 and ’11. Graham owns the Heart and Soul gymnastics and dance studio in Tucson.


Nate Campbell, a former football player at CDO and Arizona, and ex-Wildcat golferCristina Baena, are another match made in McKale. Baena, who graduated with Campbell from CDO in 1997, was a standout golfer for Arizona from 1998 to 2001. She is the sister of Marisa Baena, another former Arizona golfer who went on to the LPGA. Campbell was a flawless long snapper for the Wildcats under Dick Tomey from 1997 to 2000. Nate is now a captain of the Tucson Fire Department and Cristina is an account manager at Crest Insurance Group. They have two children.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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.


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