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Successful career makes assistant coach Iveson an asset for Arizona softball

Matthew Fulton / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA softball assistant coach Stacy Iveson guides her players from the dugout and the first base line.
Matthew Fulton
Matthew Fulton / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA softball assistant coach Stacy Iveson guides her players from the dugout and the first base line.

Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea may be the most accomplished softball coach in town, but assistant coach Stacy Iveson has an impressive resume as well.

Earlier this month, Iveson was inducted into the Pima Community College Sports Hall of Fame in its inaugural class as a head coach and part of the 2004 team she led to a national championship. She is also in the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame as well as the UA’s as an assistant coach for three national championship teams that were inducted.

“I was excited; that was a really awesome team that we had; it was just a special group of girls,” Iveson said. “That was my first experience of a national championship as a head coach, so that’s kind of a team that will always hold a special place in my heart, so it was really fun to see everyone get back together and kind of see what they’re doing with their lives.”

Iveson was starting catcher for Candrea’s first four UA teams, 1986 to 1989. As a sophomore she was all-region and All-Pac-10 and in 1988 played in 72 games, which ties her for most in Arizona history.

Iveson was an assistant coach at the UA from 1995 to 2001 and Arizona won national championships in 1996, 1997 and 2001.

Iveson said Candrea hasn’t changed much since she played, just evolved as the game evolved from 1-0 games with a focus on small ball to more offense and more home runs.

“She’s a good coach that has worn the uniform, that understands what this tradition is all about, and therefore it’s been a real blessing to have her back on the staff,” Candrea said. “She’s done a great job.”

Iveson is in her ninth season, second consecutive, as a UA coach. She said it wasn’t strange being an assistant after so many years as a head coach.

“It’s not weird because I’ve done this exact same thing before, and I could never be an assistant coach for anybody else except coach Candrea,” Iveson said. “I grew up learning his style and that’s the way that I teach, so it’s really easy for me to fit right in with that.”

Iveson won four NJCAA national championships, two at Pima Community College and two at Yavapai College, including a 67-4 team in 2011.

She won national coach of the year in 2004 following her first national title at Pima, and the Yavapai coaches won top NJCAA coaching staff in 2009 and 2011.

Junior pitcher Estela Piñon, who played for Iveson at Yavapai, said it was a little different to see Iveson as an assistant.

“She’s an amazing coach,” Piñon added.

Iveson was head coach of the Arizona Heat of the National Pro Fastpitch from 2005 to 2007.

She was also a teacher in the 1990s and coached at Salpointe Catholic High School from 1991 to 1994, leading the Lancers to a state championship in 1993.

“She’s done it at every level,” Candrea said. “She’s a good teacher of the game. She brings a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, has been a real asset and will continue to be an asset for this program.”

The game has changed so much from the 1980s that Iveson even played baseball in high school, at Catalina High School in Tucson. At that time, Arizona high school softball was in the fall, so her senior year she tried baseball.

Iveson said her baseball coach and male teammates were really supportive but that the field was “so much bigger.”

“It was a huge change,” Iveson said. “It was so different; the games were completely different. It was a really good experience and it humbled me.”

Iveson has been a member of the USA Softball coaching pool for the last six years, including last season as an assistant for USA Junior National team. She went 213-44 at Yavapai and won over 300 games at Pima.

“She’s an amazing person, easy to talk to, makes you work hard, and I love the way she speaks to you,” Piñon said. “She has really good motivation talents. I really like her. She’s a really good person.”

It was rumored that Iveson was going to be a head coach at an SEC school, but she “couldn’t resist” Arizona.

When a coaching position opened up in 2011, Candrea said he called Iveson first.

“There was a couple opportunities, but Arizona is my home,” Iveson said. “Tucson is my home and I always kind of wanted to get back here. Obviously, Arizona holds a dear place in my heart and it’s kind of where I’d like to be and where I’d like to spend the rest of my time.”

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