Feb. 10, 2012
Students that attend the University of Arizona feel a strong connection to their school when they become alumni. Being a student athlete makes that relationship even stronger, as Stacy Iveson and Alicia Hollowell know very well.
Iveson and Hollowell are former softball players who have returned to the Arizona softball team once again. Iveson has returned to the Wildcats as an assistant coach and Hollowell has taken the title of director of operations. While their positions for the current team are different, they both call Arizona their home and look forward to the 2012 softball season.
"Coming back was just like coming back home," Hollowell said. "I know a lot of people. It was funny, the first day coach took me around to introduce me to people I would be working with and it was more hugs and `hello again' rather than `nice to meet you'. So it's really been nice knowing coach, knowing the system. It has been a really easy transition."
Her new job marks Hollowell's first with a softball team and the first year for the newly-created director of operations position.
Iveson, however, has a past full of championships as a coach. Her first major coaching experience was in 1991 at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, where her team won a state championship in 2003.
She started as an assistant to Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea in 1996 and stayed for seven seasons assisting in the 1996, 1997, and 2001 National Championship teams for the Wildcats.
She proceeded to win two NJCAA Championships while coaching at Pima Community College in Tucson, and most recently two at her position as head coach for Yavapai College in Prescott.
"It's a totally different feeling as a coach versus as a player," Iveson said. "Also, it's a different feeling it being your own team as head coach, having recruited those players and seeing the whole evolution of the program. When I first got to Pima we were about a 500 ball club and just seeing the transition from that to a National Championship team was great. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, starting brand new program at Yavapai and building that into a National Championship. It was amazing, it was a great experience. I think it was very valuable for my future as a coach."
Iveson has the experience and drive necessary to coach a softball team and Hollowell's new position as director of operations of the team provides the coaches with the opportunity to do their jobs more efficiently.
"I do a lot of administrative stuff," Hollowell said. "I handle all of our travel, I do a lot of video breakdown, and I do a lot of things for coach to take them off his plate so he can focus more on coaching. I go out to practice every day and if there's something I see I can tell the coaches. I can't directly coach the players, but I can observe. I can do stats, there are a lot of things I can do."
Hollowell focuses each day on making life easier for the coaching staff so they can direct their attention to the players.
"The biggest thing I want to do is to help the coaches and take things off their plate so they can focus more on coaching," Hollowell said. "There are a lot of things that people don't realize that coaches do behind the scenes without a director of operations that doesn't even relate to coaching."
With the Wildcats' season opening this month, Hollowell is extremely excited to see the team in action.
"I'm really excited for the team overall," Hollowell said. "It's a lot of fun coming back, being a former player, it's nice being here where everything feels natural. The current team, they've been working so hard. I'm ready to see them play and see what they can do this season."
Iveson is also ready to see the team in action that she has worked so hard with in the offseason.
"I'm looking forward to seeing them come together as a team," Iveson said. "It's fun to see them come together and going through the battles of the ups and downs, good and bad, that every season brings. Hopefully we'll be playing our best softball when we need to be."
This season, Iveson knows she must keep a level head and be ready for anything. With her experience at all different levels of competition, she has high expectations and a good understanding of the game.
"At Arizona, we expect to win a national championship every year, that's what we work for," Iveson said. "The understanding of what it takes and the fact that there are ups and downs in a season and not panicking one way or another are traits I bring from my past experiences. Not getting too high, not getting to low, when things are going well and when things aren't going well and just understanding that it's all part of the process to get us to that ultimate goal."
Both Hollowell and Iveson are expecting greatness from this Arizona softball team, and are excited to be a part of it. They are looking ahead to a bright future and hope to see more national championships added to the already-storied program.