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Cat Tracking: Heat is on former Wildcat player and coach

Kevin B. Klaus/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Pima Community College softball head coach and UA alum Stacy Iveson coaches third base for the Aztecs during the second game of a doubleheader Feb. 17 at Pima.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
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Last fall, former Wildcat catcher Stacy Iveson was named manager of Tucson's major league softball team, the Arizona Heat, in the first-year National Pro Fastpitch league. A former Wildcat assistant coach, Iveson was All-Pac-10 and All-Northwest Region during head coach Mike Candrea's first four years. The current head coach for Pima Community College, Iveson led the No. 1-ranked Aztecs to a 2-0 win over the UA last fall.

Wildcat: What did it feel like to beat the UA?

Iveson: I had really mixed feelings, actually. I was really excited for our girls they are Tucson kids; they grew up watching these awesome softball players and idolizing all Arizona players. I was so excited for them because it was the highlight of a lot of their careers. But on the other hand, when I was at Arizona, I knew there's nothing you can do to a community college other than crush them. And it looks bad, so there's a lot of pressure on them. So I felt bad. Sometimes things happen that way. Balls dropped in our favor. It was just one of those nights where I should have bought a lottery ticket, but I had mixed feelings. I was really excited for the girls, of course, but I'm an Arizona fan, so I never want to see them lose. If they have to lose, it's good they lose to us.

Wildcat: Did it kind of help recruiting or the program's exposure?

Iveson: Oh yeah, I mean, something like that is always exciting for a local kid to see that Pima really is the real deal now and not just a flash-in-the-pan kind of thing, and that we can play with that level. Yeah, it's definitely good for recruiting.

Wildcat: At the UA softball media day, (sophomore pitcher) Alicia Hollowell said that she asked (1997 men's basketball Final Four Most Outstanding Player) Miles Simon if he was going to their games that weekend, and he asked if Pima was playing. After she said no, he said, "Oh, I wanted to see the best team in Tucson."

Iveson: (Laughs) Oh, no way. That's awesome (laughs). I have to get in touch with him. That's great.

Wildcat: Why do you think you've been able to be so successful?

Iveson: Well, there's a lot of talent in Tucson. There always has been. That's why I was kind of surprised before I was coaching here at Pima that Pima wasn't more competitive because there are so many good players. I think that's a lot of it getting good players. I think just getting people to believe that they can compete, that Pima can be the best team in the country. And I think little by little each year, each team has taken one step further toward our goal of winning the national championship. So we're hoping this team will be the one to take that last step.

Wildcat: Will managing the Heat conflict with coaching at Pima?

Iveson: Hopefully (laughs) because camp starts, I think, the 17th and the (junior) college World Series ends May 22. So there should be about a four-day overlap, I'm hoping. Other than that, there's really no conflict. I really don't do a lot of recruiting in the summer. When I do, it's in town, so I'll just go out and watch the local tournaments. We don't have dorms here, so I don't travel to recruits, so that's good. I've already signed all my kids for next year.

Wildcat: How is the (Heat) looking so far?

Iveson: Well, you know, I have no idea. We should be good. On paper, we look great. We had a really good draft. We got some of the top college seniors in the country, so that's great. And we signed a lot of former UA players that are outstanding players. It's just a matter of getting them back in playing shape. You can see Leah (Braatz, 1997 and 1998 catcher of the year at Arizona), our catcher, came out to hit with us today. A couple times a week I'm inviting them out. They're coming out and working, which is great for our players to see players of that level and get to pitch against people like that. So it's kind of a win-win situation.

Wildcat: Are you excited about coaching former UA players like (UA interim associate head) coach (Nancy) Evans again?

Iveson: Yeah, it's going to be fun. I'm really looking forward to it. The one thing is just the travel I'm not excited about that. It's an intense season, real short, but tons of games. But I think it will be a lot of fun. All the players on my team have such great knowledge of the game. I'm coaching coaches. So like I said, I'm not going to have to be so structured on the base paths, and they know when to advance. I'm not going to have to tell them. It will be fun.

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