Legendary former Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea stopped by to join Steve Rivera and Jay Gonzales on the latest episode of Eye on the Ball on Fox Sports 1450. He spoke about his retirement and his time there in Arizona. What is he doing ? Over the weekend, the University of Arizona honored the eight-time national title winner in a ceremony and also named the field at Hillenbrand Stadium in his honor: Mike Candrea Field.
Jay Gonzales: “Tell us Mike, about this whole weekend and about the course that bears your name. Was it a big surprise for you? »
Mike Candrea: “I really had no idea, because I knew we had the big party that night, and I was going to the game, so I was saying ‘hey’ at halftime, they were showing a video , then I’d step out of the field.
Steve Rivera: “What a great experience, and all the women who were there to honor you too, I mean you said it yourself, that’s what it’s all about.”
Mike Candrea: “Yeah, I said the other night it was like living a living burial.”
Jay Gonzales: “How did it feel all weekend?”
Mike Candrea: “It was really a celebration of my career, and to be able to do it with all the players, friends and coaches was awesome. It was very humbling to be honest, and seeing everyone come back to Tucson to be part of it meant a lot. And, I think a lot of coaches should be able to end their careers like that.
Steve Rivera: “When did you know you really thought you had something great here?”
Mike Candrea: “I think probably in 1991, when we won our first championship. I felt that was the only moment that convinced me that this was the place and that we could do something special in the sport. The blessing for me has been seeing the sport grow. I could live it. Going through tough times where we had no fans, no pitch and had to pay for everything we had, to see now what Hillenbrand looks like today. It’s amazing to see this growth.
Jay Gonzales: “Did you ever feel that was even more important than just your success in Arizona?”
Mike Candrea: “I think that’s when I started getting involved with the national team, seeing what teams around the world are like. I think it was just a blessing because the One of the saddest moments for me was when we found out that we were no longer on the Olympic program in 2008.”
Steve Rivera: “They really had no culture when you came here as the program was in its infancy. You were the culture, so how was it?
Mike Candrea: “Culture is the key to longevity and the key to consistent success, and you can have a functional culture or a dysfunctional culture, and I think that’s a big part of empowering people in the business. athletics today.”
Jay Gonzales: “Have you ever ranked specific things in your career? Maybe not publicly, but privately?
Mike Candrea: “I’ve never done that. It’s terribly difficult to choose a favorite player, you’d be crazy to do that because we had so many. I think there were some highlights in my career. I keep coming back to that 91 team because they laid the groundwork. They allowed us to recruit better athletes and elevate the program. Bill Hillenbrand coming to build Hillenbrand Stadium, I thought that was a huge boost for the sport because we hadn’t had a facility like that for softball before. And finally coaching the 2004 Olympic team. Coaching what I believe to be the best team that has ever played the game.”
Steve Rivera: “Why retire now? And could you have gone further?
Mike Candrea: “I felt the time was right. I wasn’t ready to navigate the transfer portal and the NIL, that’s not why I coach. I have been caring for Caitlin Lowe for some time, and I feel very good about where she will be following this program in the future. I also look forward to being able to support her and, if needed, be a mentor to other young coaches in any sport.
Steve Rivera: “How do you fill this competitive void?”
Mike Candrea: “I have a passion for golf and I really want to improve.”
To listen to the full interview, click on the link: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1248-eye-on-the-ball-70788317/episode/eye-on-the-ball-tuesday-92348989/
Follow Jake on Twitter @jake_faigus
Jake Faigus is originally from Phoenix. He is a senior at the University of Arizona with a major in journalism and a minor in sports management. He has also written for the University of Arizona student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, as well as the Arizona Fanside blog called Zona Zealots.