Former Arizona player Brenda Frese coaches her Maryland team in win over Tennessee (ESPN screen shot)
FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES
AS CURRENT HEAD COACHES
Men’s college basketball
|Craig McMillan||1984-88||Santa Rosa (CA) JC||2000|
Men’s professional basketball
|Reggie Geary||1992-96||Mitsubishi (Japan)||2011|
|Steve Kerr||1983-88||Golden State (NBA)||2014|
|Tod Brown||1990-94||North Dakota State||2007|
|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
High school football
|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|
|Clarence McRae||2003-04||Mountain View||2012|
|Antonio Pierce||1999-00||Long Beach Poly||2014|
High school boys basketball
|Jason Stewart||1997-99||Encinitas (Calif.) San Dieguito||2014|
|Leticia Pineda-Boutté||1995-98||Washington-St. Louis||2006|
High school softball
|Jackie Coburn||2002-05||Scottsdale Horizon||2013|
|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.
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.