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Nicole Bethurum’s final innings at AWC

Nicole Bethurum to retire after 14 years as the head softball coach at Arizona Western.

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Nicole Bethurum has been at the helm of the Arizona Western College softball program for 14 years, but after this season the second winningest coach in program history has decided to retire. Despite all the success on the diamond, Bethurum is most proud of the impact she has on these girls beyond the field.

"Each time everybody grew I have to go back to that," Bethurum said. "It doesn't matter what perspective as long as everyone's still learning and growing. That's why you're a coach. You want everybody to grow and move on and be better than they are than the day before."

Player development and growth has alway been the drive for Bethurum to show up each and every day.

"My favorite part always of coaching is watching the light bulb go off," she said. "When I maybe introducing something new or teaching how to do something. It may take a couple days, but when the light bulb goes off and you see that look in an athlete's eyes, that's always my favorite part."

For over a decade, Bethurum has given athletes an opportunity to better their lives and education through sports.

"She gave me a second chance," AWC sophomore Valerie Joaquin said. "I originally stopped playing softball for a minute, and she gave me an opportunity to come back to the game that I love and to continue playing because I hope to continue playing after this year. So honestly, she's made a huge impact in my life and being able to continue this sport."

Bethurum has helped her players to improve on the diamond, but she has had a greater impact on their lives off the field.

"She made a huge impact on me, especially with what I've been going through at home, losing my dad this February," AWC sophomore Jessie Garcia said. "She's been one of my bigger supporters, coming back to school, trying to help encourage me to finish my sophomore year and just finished school."

She has been able to this because Bethurum has a special ability to connect with people.

"We're able to be comfortable around her fully like to the fullest extent, being able to have conversations with her about serious things in her life, but also being able to joke with her with whenever we have going on," Joaquin said.

Bethurum has built a program where platers are excited to show up everyday because she has mastered the balance between hard work and fun.  

"She wants people to have fun," Garica said. "Like, when she gets plastic cockroaches to scare people and make people smile." 


Bethurum has been the leader in the Matador dugout since 2010, and for one last time she will lead them out on Saturday.

"I'd like to say thank you to all my former players and the community for supporting me," Bethurum said. "It's been a great time and I would not change it for the world." 

The Lady Matadors will face Pima tomorrow in a double header in what will be Bethurum's final home games and Sophomore Day. It won't be the last time they are on the diamond together though, this squad has already qualified for regionals and has the national tournament in their sights.

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Chas Messman

Chas Messman joined KYMA in July 2023 as News 11’s Sports Director. If you have any sports story ideas, send them to


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