Former Arizona Wildcats who are now head coaches totals 27

Former Arizona player Brenda Frese coaches her Maryland team in win over Tennessee (ESPN screen shot)
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FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES
AS CURRENT HEAD COACHES

Men’s college basketball

Player Years/UA Team Start
Jason Gardner 1999-03 IUPUI 2014
Craig McMillan 1984-88 Santa Rosa (CA) JC 2000
Josh Pastner 1996-00 Memphis 2009

Men’s professional basketball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Reggie Geary 1992-96 Mitsubishi (Japan) 2011
Steve Kerr 1983-88 Golden State (NBA) 2014

College baseball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Tod Brown 1990-94 North Dakota State 2007

Professional baseball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Shelley Duncan 1999-01 Class A Hillsboro (Ore.) 2015
Terry Francona 1977-80 Cleveland (MLB) 2013
Chip Hale 1984-87 Arizona (MLB) 2015

Women’s college basketball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Sue Darling 1978-82 NAU 2012
Brenda Frese 1989-93 Maryland 2002

High school football
Player Years/UA Team Start
Marcus Bell 1996-99 Eager Round Valley 2011
Robert Bonillas 1995-98 Desert View 2012
Kris Heavner 2003-07 Scottsdale Horizon 2013
Mark Keel 1979-82 Silverdale (Wash.) Central Kitsap 2000
Scott McKee 1999-02 Sahuaro 2009
Clarence McRae 2003-04 Mountain View 2012
Antonio Pierce 1999-00 Long Beach Poly 2014
Brandon Sanders 1995-98 Pueblo 2014

High school boys basketball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Kelvin Eafon 1995-98 Pueblo 2014
Jason Stewart 1997-99 Encinitas (Calif.) San Dieguito 2014

College softball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Kristie Fox 2004-07 Texas-Arlington 2013
Leticia Pineda-Boutté 1995-98 Washington-St. Louis 2006

High school softball
Player Years/UA Team Start
Amy Baray-Rocha 1999 Salpointe 2015
Jackie Coburn 2002-05 Scottsdale Horizon 2013
Danielle Rodriguez 2006-08 Tucson 2010
Jody Pruitt 1990-93 Peoria Sunrise Mountain 2011

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The continued success of Brenda Frese as the head women’s basketball coach at Maryland makes her one of the most prominent former Arizona athletes to become a head coach.

The number currently stands at 27 for former Arizona athletes who are a head coach or manager from the high school ranks to professional level.

Frese, who is coaching the Terrapins in their second consecutive Final Four and third overall, is challenging former Arizona baseball All-American Terry Francona as the most successful Wildcat to lead his or her own team.

Brenda Frese is 398-133 in 16 years as a head coach

Brenda Frese is 398-133 in 16 years as a head coach

Francona, in his third season as the Cleveland Indians’ manager, won World Series titles as the Boston Red Sox skipper in 2004 and 2007.

Frese, who lettered at Arizona from 1989 to 1993, coached Maryland to the 2006 national title. Her 16-year coaching record is 398-133. She coached the Terrapins to a perfect 18-0 record in their first season in the Big Ten this year.

Frese was recruited to Arizona from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by June Olkowski in 1989. After Frese’s sophomore season, Olkowski was replaced by Joan Bonvicini. The transition was not smooth for Frese, who had four foot surgeries at Arizona. She did not play her senior season at Arizona in 1992-93.

“I think it was that kind of adversity that probably helped prepare me to be a better coach,” Frese said in a 2009 interview with Coach and Athletic Director. “As players, you always think you’re going to play forever and you’re not prepared for your future. Once my career was ended with injuries, it really forced me to have to make a decision about my future sooner rather than later.”

Her senior year at Arizona was spent as a volunteer student assistant at Pima Community College. That’s when her desire to become a basketball coach caught fire.

“When the opportunity to coach presented itself, I blindly jumped into it and immediately fell in love with every aspect of the game,” Frese said about her Pima experience. “It’s interesting because we would practice in the morning, because the head coach had another job, and I am not a morning person. But it was easy for me to get up for 6 a.m. practices because I just really loved the game.”


RELATED: The number of former Arizona students and student-athletes broadcasting sports is at 34.

From there she became an assistant coach at Kent State (where she earned her master’s degree in sports administration) and Iowa State. She went on to become the head coach at Ball State for two years (1999-2000 and 2000-01) and Minnesota in 2001-02.

During her only season at Minnesota, she led a one-year turnaround of 8-20 to 22-8, one of the most significant in NCAA history. Minnesota made it to the second round of the NCAA tourmament, and Frese was named the AP National Coach of the Year.

Maryland hired her that same year and her legacy has grown with the Terrapins’ program since.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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