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As true as Mike Candrea brought national prominence to the University of Arizona in college softball circles, Kelly Fowler did the same for youth softball in Southern Arizona through her Desert Thunder ASA program and her affiliation with Canyon del Oro High School.
The Dorados only had two championships prior to her arrival on campus with Dee Dinota winning it all in 2001 after Kathy McQuown coached one a decade earlier in 1991. Dinota started the ball rolling in CDO’s favor and Fowler more than took off with it.
After winning it all in 2005, Fowler stepped away to watch her daughters Kenzie and Mattie help take the program to a national power that resulted in an avalanche of state championships. In fact, the Dorados played in every state championship game from 2005 to 2012.
Fowler came back officially in 2011 to win another championship before leaving to watch her daughters play college ball and she is back again.
The governing board of the Amphitheater School District will make it all official on September 23.
“I miss it all no doubt,” said Fowler. “Of course I want to win but I also enjoy the journey. Teaching and practice, that’s what is important.”
Of course she will have some of the top assistant coaches back in Kevin Glynn and Gale Bundrick.
Even when Fowler was out of the local high school scene, she was instrumental in helping legendary coach Rich Alday secure the head coaching job at rival Ironwood Ridge and Arizona saw how well that turned out. Alday, after all, is her Godfather.
CANYON DEL ORO CHAMPIONSHIPS
1991: 5A (Kathy McQuown)
2001: 5A (Dee Dinota)
2005: 5A (Kelly Fowler)
2007: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2008: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2009: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2011: 4A-I (Kelly Fowler)
2012: D-II (Stephanie Nicholson)
NOTE: My daughter, Maggie Morales will be a senior on CDO’s team this year. One of my other daughters, Brittney Morales, played with Fowler in the Desert Thunder program and at CDO.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AIA365.com, on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com