Pima County Sports Hall of Fame’s New Inductee: Steve Botkin


Marley Gandee, Associate Editor-In-Chief

Four-time Olympian, Abdi Adbirahman, MLB Second Baseman Ian Kinsler, and former UofA basketball player and assistant coach, Sue Darling, and Sean Elliott – one of only three Wildcats and five Spurs to have his jersey retired. What do these all have in common? These are all inductees in the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame. Now joining these greats is our very own Coach Botkin.

Sahuaro’s athletic director and head girls’ basketball coach has spent most of his life making this school his home and the people his family. After graduating from Sahuaro in 1986, he immediately started coaching the girl’s freshmen team while also attending the University of Arizona, then progressing to the JV basketball team. After a while, he decided to try coaching boys at Catalina Foothills. He, “liked it, but didn’t love it.” He loved seeing the improvement of what the girls worked on in practice to how they performed in a game. He moved back to coaching the girls’ side for the Rincon Varsity Team and continued to work there for six more years. In 2000, Jim Scott, Mr. Botkin’s mentor, retired, and Coach Botkin’s legacy at Sahuaro began, now coaching at Sahuaro for 22 years.

Coach Botkin’s drive to start coaching basketball straight out of high school was due to his love for basketball. He said, “…I wasn’t good enough to play collegiately, but I thought I would love to coach and help young people.” Mr. Botkin had played basketball at Sahuaro, his father grew up playing basketball, and Coach McConnell, who our gym is named after was, “…also a mentor, was a teacher of mine here at Sahuaro, and then became a really close friend, and I just love the passion that he had for the sport…” Being around Coach Scott and Coach McConnell, especially working Coach McConnell’s camps for an astonishing 20 years, was another huge driving force behind his amazing career.

Coach Botkin mentioned a couple of his favorite accomplishments over his years. The first is coaching his daughter, Alyssa Botkin. After having her on his team for all four years of high school, she has been coaching alongside her dad for the last four years. He said, “It’s just been phenomenal, so eight years I get to spend with my kiddo.” On the topic of coaching with her father, she said, “It is so fun, and truly some of the best memories I have are sitting on the bench coaching with him. I hope I can take all that he has taught me and use it through my life.” The other favorite was a pretty big name that most of us have probably heard. Coach Botkin started coaching Alyssa Brown during her freshman year, and now she is playing D1 basketball at UNLV as a sophomore. Alyssa said, “It meant a lot to me and my family to be able to be coached by him…He definitely helped shape me into the player I am today. He made me more coachable and just made me fall in love with the game a lot more…I’m so proud of his accomplishments and it’s well deserved he be inducted.”

Those who are coached by Botkin, have been asked, “What does it mean to you to be coached by Coach Botkin?” In response, senior Nelly Ponds said, “It’s an honor to be coached by him, a man that has taught me and helped me accomplish a lot, I am honored I would say.” Junior Kristen Valdez said, “Being coached by Coach Botkin honestly means so much because I have been wanting to be coached by him since the summer after my 7th-grade year.” Senior Cesia Salazar said, “It’s awesome to be coached by him because he is one of the best coaches in Southern Arizona. Not only is he a great mentor, he taught us how to be a team and not only a team, but a family.” They were also asked how they would describe him. Some words they used were: caring (x2), inspirational, motivating, fun, reliable, family, success, and legacy.

Sahuaro is so proud to have such an amazing coach and mentor to many as part of our community. Congratulations to Coach Botkin, this is well deserved.