Even after winning four junior college national titles as a head coach, Stacy Iveson was never truly tempted to coach Div. I-A softball anywhere but Tucson.
She attended Catalina High School, played for Mike Candrea's first four Arizona Wildcats teams, and coached at Salpointe Catholic High School, the UA, Pima College and the professional Arizona Heat.
Tucson was home.
"Nothing was ever strong enough to pull me away," she said.
Which is why Iveson is returning to Tucson, the UA announced Wednesday, filling the Wildcats assistant coaching vacancy.
"It was definitely an easy decision for me," Candrea said.
The UA alum will not be called a "pitching coach," despite replacing Teresa Wilson, who left last month to pursue head-coaching jobs. Wilson coached the UA for three seasons, making $60,000 a year.
Iveson will oversee pitchers and catchers, said Candrea, who added that assistant Larry Ray will return.
"Being a former catcher, she calls a great game," Candrea said. "She puts together a great game plan. I think she'll do a very good job of taking the strength of our staff and also being able to refine the weaknesses."
Iveson said coaching the UA's pitchers will be about management; she has Kenzie Fowler and Shelby Babcock returning, plus freshman left-hander Kiley Shae Aldridge.
"The biggest piece of the puzzle will be building their confidence back up," she said over the telephone. "And getting them to believe in themselves like they have in the past."
From 2002 to 2007, Iveson coached Pima College to two National Junior College Athletic Association championships. She was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
She then started the Yavapai program, winning two titles in four years. Her Roughriders teams went 213-44.
"I felt like I was ready for a move," she said, "in that I'd kind of done what I could do at the junior college level."
Being a head coach "has given me a lot of confidence," Iveson said, "knowing I can do it, and having to take control over other aspects of the game."
Iveson served as a UA assistant from 1996 to 2001, helping the Wildcats win three national titles.
"She's been here for some national championships," Candrea said. "She knows what it takes, what's expected."
The 43-year-old Iveson, who has been part of USA Softball's coaching pool for six years, could be in Tucson for a long time.
Candrea, 55, called Iveson "a viable candidate" to replace him, whenever he decides to retire, but said there is no coach-in-waiting agreement.
Iveson said she's always laughed off any suggestion she could inherit Candrea's program, but admitted she could be a candidate later.
"I don't know - maybe, possibly," she said. "I'm excited to get back to Arizona and make it such an amazing experience that coach Candrea isn't going to want to leave for a long, long time."