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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pay respect before Mike Candrea

    The two-time defending national champion Arizona softball team plays ball again this weekend, one final time before head coach Mike Candrea departs for the worldwide spotlight.

    Candrea once again holds the reigns of the USA Softball team’s run through the Summer Olympic Games, next year in Beijing. And if history truly repeats itself, expect more of his same brilliance from years past.

    Candrea’s 2004 national team outscored its opponents 51-1 en route to a 9-0 record and gold medal at the Games held in Athens, Greece. Such accomplishment helped Candrea become the first coach to receive an Olympic Shield – the most prestigious award from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Additionally, Candrea’s name was inscribed into the 2004 USOC Coach of the Year trophy.

    With his latest global gig, Candrea officially joins the Tier One Elite Coaching Club, joining greats like Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Red Auerbach. Sit down at the table, Candrea – your laundry list of accomplishments certainly allows for a sweet sip of champaign with the new crew.

    But settling with a sense of satisfaction remains far down on Candrea’s agenda. In last week’s practice prior to opening up a fall doubleheader exhibition game, Candrea approached his early Arizona preseason speech with a Bill Belichick cliché, to a fresh new team with much to prove.

    “”You’re not going to live on your reputation very long,”” Candrea said. “”Those seasons were great seasons, but they’re over with and now it’s time to start a new one. It’s what this group does on a day-to-day basis that’s going to allow them an opportunity to be successful.””

    As much attention as Arizona’s football and men’s basketball teams receive, Candrea’s accomplishments surpass the trophy cases of the two sports combined. Neither sport has a coach who can top his résumé of eight national championships, 10 Pacific 10 Conference Coach of the Year awards, 16 consecutive Women’s College World Series appearances and being the fastest of five coaches to win 1,100 games.

    Candrea’s perfection rides all the way back to the program’s birth. His worst season to date remains his first in 1986 – Arizona’s inaugural season in the Pac-10, when it finished with a 27-13-1 record. Candrea rebounded the following year with a 42-18 record, beginning the first of 20 consecutive postseason appearances. In all, he has nearly 1,000 more wins than losses (all-time record: 1,256-282).

    Aside from aiming to capture the U.S.’ fourth consecutive gold next summer, Candrea also hopes to keep softball in the Games beyond 2008. The International Olympic Committee has voted to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 London Games.

    In any event, Tucson has been home to 33 All-Americans , 18 of whom have represented the USA in Olympic play.

    Regardless of his results in Beijing and beyond, Candrea remains a legendary icon in coaching.

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