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Arizona Western names Chelsea Dewey as new head women’s basketball coach

Dewey becomes just the second head coach in program history following Patrick Cunningham's retirement

YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - For the first time in the 24-year history of women's basketball at Arizona Western College, a new face will lead the way on the Matador sideline.

After three years as Patrick Cunningham's right-hand woman on the bench, Chelsea Dewey was officially named the team's Interim Head Coach for the 2023-24 season on Thursday.

In front of a crowd of administrators, coaches and family through a livestream, Sports Information Director, Michael Broskowski, said it best:

"Today is un-chartered territory for the women's basketball program."

It's un-chartered territory considering Dewey will become the first head coach named to the position since the program's existence began in 1999 under Cunningham - who led the way for 24 seasons.

Cunningham announced his retirement on Wednesday, leading the Arizona Western administration to make a quick turnaround in making Dewey the head coach.

"It was a long journey. Nothing was really set in stone until this week," said Dewey. "It was a long process of evaluation and they wanted to make sure they got someone right in here. So you can only take that as gratitude that they chose me in what they want for this program. It's a big opportunity and they wanted the right human being."

The opportunity lands Dewey her first head coaching job after spending three years as a Graduate Assistant at Division II school Missouri Western, following her playing days with the same school.

While providing a statement and answering questions at the podium Thursday afternoon, Dewey spoke a lot about love and relationships - giving immense credit to her family, coaches and friends that helped and pushed her along the way.

This made for an emotional introduction.

"It's a lot of excitement, happy excitement," said Dewey holding back tears. "It takes a lot of love and a lot of hard work. That's what he (Coach Cunningham) showed me. I grew up on tough love from all of my coaches. And we have to keep loving on these kids."

In her three years under the wing of Cunningham, she helped the Lady Matadors to 57 wins - including the program's second-ever trip to the NJCAA Tournament after winning the Region I title in 2022.

And she is excited and ready to keep running the program the way Cunningham left it.

"I'm thankful for what he built here, fortunate enough to continue. It's going to be a great honor and I look forward to what's to come in the future here as a Matador," added Dewey. "Our identity is going to be simple. I was built on giving your best effort everyday and that's what we're going to do. We're going to battle. We're going to go to war and we're hopefully going to come out on top most of the time and get a staff in here that can help these ladies accomplish something bigger than themselves."

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson is News 11’s Sports Director.

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