VARSITY TEAMS: 18 INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 11
FAMOUS ALUMNI: KENNY LOFTON, DAMON STOUDAMIRE
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: DIRTBAG'S, A SPORTS HANGOUT
This is an article from the April 28, 1997 issue
Arizona's 58-year-old football coach, Dick Tomey, regularly
plays one-on-one at McKale Center, the Wildcats' basketball
arena. The always-packed student rec center features an
Olympic-sized pool and a vast window-front workout area allowing
passersby on Sixth Street to gawk. Business marquees across
Tucson blare some variation of the same message: BEAR DOWN CATS.
These are just a few indications of the enthusiasm for sports at
Arizona, a jock oasis. The Wildcats' upset of Kentucky in this
year's NCAA men's basketball final--the culmination of Arizona's
13 straight tournament appearances and three Final Four visits
since 1985--underscored the school's athletic rise. In softball
the Wildcats have won four national titles in the last six
years. The women's golf team is the defending NCAA champion and
stars individual champ Marisa Baena. Arizona has earned a total
of four NCAA titles in men's golf and baseball since 1976.
Tucson's 310 days a year of sunshine attract students eager to
get out and play. Hiking and biking opportunities abound in the
nearby mountains. Mount Lemmon, 30 miles north, is the
southernmost ski area in the U.S. Golf, anyone? There are 26
public and 11 private courses in the city.
Arizona is progressive: It was the first Division I school to
hire a woman as strength coach, the first to hire a woman
athletic administrator to oversee football and men's basketball,
and one of the first to hire a black basketball coach (Fred
Snowden, in the 1970s). Its extensive program for disabled
students fields teams in wheelchair basketball, rugby, track and
road racing. Each year the wheelchair hoopsters--known as the
Wildchairs--play members of the Wildcats' men's and women's
varsity in a wheelchair game that has drawn more than 12,000.
Not convinced? The facilities, among them the Hillenbrand
Aquatic Center, are superb. Alumni include baseball's youngest
manager, the Philadelphia Phillies' Terry Francona, and
America's most-watched coach, Craig T. Nelson (of ABC's Coach).
Oh, did we mention the weather?