Arnold follows father by donning Cats jersey

By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 14, 2005

Many students consider going to the same university as their parents a way of carrying on a family legacy.

For Arizona women's basketball player Jessica Arnold, wearing an Arizona jersey is her way of walking in her father's footsteps.

Arnold, a sophomore guard, is the daughter of Mark Arnold, a relief pitcher for the Wildcat baseball team in 1977-1978.

Jessica grew up in Tucson and always has had Wildcat blood pumping through her veins.

"Basically, I've been going to Joan Bonvicini basketball camps since I was 6 years old. I just love coach and just being at the U of A," she said. "I lived here, my family is here, and when (the) opportunity came, I said, 'Why not? This is the best (school) academically and basketballwise.'"

Even when other schools recruited Jessica, she said she would have never seen herself in anything but a Wildcat uniform.

"I was getting recruited by ASU, and that wouldn't have happened," she said. "My whole family would have disowned me."

Jessica said that athletics have always been something of a family hallmark, as her father was involved in them even before his college days.

"We both in high school played a number of sports," she said. "He played basketball, baseball, and I'm pretty sure he ran track, and I played volleyball and basketball."

With both father and daughter excelling in their respective sports, Mark is quick to give Jessica the nod at being the better athlete.

"She is better conditioned and the program they run now is incredible," he said.

Jessica said that when she was younger, her dad would consistently beat her in basketball, but now they both agree that it would be no contest.

"Now he's a little older and I'm a little younger, and I just beat him all the time because I'm quicker," she said.

"Absolutely," Mark said. "I'm still a little bigger, but she gets around me pretty good."

Jessica's mom went to the UA, along with her uncle, who now works at the UA.

The support Arnold gets on the court these days is another reason she's glad she followed the legacy her dad laid out.

"My first game was awesome," she said. "When I was little, I used to watch the team play, and to see my family and my grandparents and everyone come to the game was awesome."

Mark lives in California now but said he will frequent the games even more to watch his daughter carry on the family tradition.

"I didn't know how much she would play her freshman year, but I did make it to about 13 of the games," he said. "This year I'm going to attend the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage to watch her play."

If Jessica has a child one day, she sees him or her becoming another Arnold Wildcat, whether swinging a bat or shooting jumpers.

"I grew up a Wildcat fan," she said. "I'm sure my children will, and it will continue down the line."