After leading the Arizona Western Lady Matadors Women’s Basketball program for the entire existence of the program, head coach Patrick Cunningham has announced his retirement after 24 seasons in charge.
Cunningham led the Lady Matadors to 504 wins in his 24 seasons as head coach, averaging 21 wins per season, and posting a 504-226 career record. Cunningham guided the Lady Matadors to three 30-win seasons, doing so last in 2021-22.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity Arizona Western College gave me back in 1999 to build the women’s basketball program here. It has been my only Head Coaching position, and I am grateful for all the players and coaches through the years that have kept the program competitive” Said Patrick Cunningham. “I look forward to following the Matadors in the years to come and wish nothing but the best for future players and coaches.”
Coach Pat steered the Lady Matadors Women’s Basketball program to a pair of NJCAA National Tournament appearances, reaching the Elite Eight on both trips. Most recently, the Lady Matadors reached the NJCAA National Tournament in 2022, finishing the season 30-3 and earning a first-round bye after winning the Region I and West District championships. The Lady Matadors knocked off South Georgia Tech in the second round before falling to the eventual national champion, Tyler Junior College. 2022 was the Lady Matadors’ first trip to the NJCAA National Tournament since 2002 when the Lady Matadors finished the regular season with a program record 32 wins.
As the head coach of the Lady Matadors Women’s Basketball program, Cunningham has overseen the development of 16 All-Americans, most recently, sophomore guard Kristol Ayson who was named an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American following the 2022-23 season.
Cunningham came to Arizona Western in 1998 after serving as an assistant coach at Yavapai College. In his first season as head coach, Cunningham led the Lady Matadors to a 16-15 record in the program’s first season of competition.
Of the 24 seasons Cunningham has been in charge, the Lady Matadors have produced 22 winning seasons and have put together 15 20-win seasons, including a stretch of five consecutive 20-win seasons from 2000 to 2005.Juco