As 2023 begins to wind down, the GC3 Hoops platform continues to think of ways to grow the game of women’s basketball in Arizona. Besides helping promote student athletes, I decided to dig down deeper to research people in the community who are making a difference in these student athletes’ lives. Without these people, who spend countless hours supporting student athletes, the game would not evolve to where it is today. This is our first class of most impactful figures in Arizona Women’s Basketball.
Coach Prado-Ortiz has been serving the West Valley for nearly 42 years. Last year, she retired after four decades of coaching high school girls basketball and softball at Independence, Glendale and Apollo High Schools. Besides mentoring numerous student athletes, Coach Prado-Ortiz Apollo Girls Basketball Team made back to back state championship appearances in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Her team won it all in the 2010-2011 season. We want to honor Coach Prado-Ortiz and her service to the Glendale community as a 2023 class member of the Most Impactful Figures in Arizona Women’s Basketball.
Coach Self has been a staple at Seton Catholic Prep in Chandler, Arizona. Her teams are well coached and disciplined which resulted in the Sentinels winning 12 state championships. Coach Self has been influential in positively impacting women’s basketball by serving on Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Basketball Board. She has won many prestigious awards and was invited to Coach with Team USA. Her legacy continues on as she continues to coach and serve the Seton community.
Coach Matakas recently retired from Coaching the Girls Basketball Team at Valley Vista High School after coaching in Arizona for over 20 years (stints at Peoria and Valley Vista). She had a successful career in winning 6 state championships and produced numerous college prospects during that time. Matakas had a positive impact behind the scenes as she served as a member of the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association, AIA Executive and SAC committees. Her impact has left a lasting impression in the West Valley.
Coach Holthaus has been a pillar in the Tucson Community. He was the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Flowing Wells High School from 1998-2005, Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Arizona from 2005-2007 before leading the Pima Community College Women’s Program. Holthaus built powerhouse programs at every program he has been a part of but most importantly he positively impacted student athletes by mentoring and encouraging them. His program at Pima is nationally ranked nearly every year and is one of the premiere junior college programs in the country.
Les Willsey Mr. Willsey has been covering Arizona High School Sports for over 4 decades. Most recently he retired from being a staff writer for AZPreps365. He has one of the most respected names as a prep writer as he covered AIA sports year round. Most recently the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame gave Willsey an award for his longevity in covering high school student athletes. It is only fitting that we honor Mr. Willsey and his work for making a positive impact on Arizona Women’s Basketball and High School Sports Communities.