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Legendary Wildcats softball coach Mike Candrea opens up about retirement, legacy

The real heart of his legacy beats not with the records he set, but with the success of his players on and off the field.
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 8:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - If you only glanced at Mike Candrea’s records, you would be short-changing yourself.

The real heart of his legacy beats not with the numbers, but with the success of his players on and off the field.

Those relationships he has developed over 36 seasons as the University of Arizona’s head softball coach, perhaps mean more to him than any of his eight national championships.

Candrea, who announced his retirement Monday, said as much during a news conference Tuesday.

“I can’t thank the athletes enough for allowing me to watch you play and to watch you grow,” he said.

“You come in as an 18-year-old and you’re kind of trying to find yourself,” said former Wildcat All-American and the program’s next head coach Caitlin Lowe.

She added that Candrea is a figure she looks to for guidance in every aspect of her life.

“He shows you the way,” Lowe said. “He shows you how to live life. He shows you how to overcome obstacles. He shows you all the important tools that you need for beyond the day that you graduate.”

Lowe’s former teammate, 2007 College World Series MVP and current Wildcats pitching coach, Taryne Mowatt agreed.

“I think one of the important lessons he’s taught me is to not define yourself by the sport of softball,” Mowatt said. “You’re more than just an athlete. You’re a human being and what you contribute to society and who you are as a person is way more important than who you are as an athlete.”

Candrea shared some wise words for any coach out there.

“If you can help the person out then you can help the athlete out,” he said. “But you can’t help the athlete out until you help the person. I want them to be able to be a part of my life forever and, to me, that’s the highest honor I can take away from my coaching career.”

For his players, the honor was all theirs.

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