Denise "Gooch" Cardenas begins her 12th season as head coach at Central Arizona College after spending five seasons as an assistant coach, totaling 17 years at Central Arizona College. During her 11 years as the head coach, Cardenas has produced a 299-49 record with a .850 winning percentage and one NJCAA Division I National Championship. The Vaqueras captured the national crown in 2009 during her first season at the reins. Cardenas has spent 19 years in the CAC women's basketball program - two as a player and seventeen as a coach - reaching the NJCAA I National Tournament 15 seasons. She has coached in five National Championship games and eight Final Fours.
A CAC alumn, Cardenas is no stranger to the tradition and expectations of this program. She played for the Vaqueras for two seasons (1997-99) where she won two NJCAA I National Championships in basketball and softball.Following her two years at CAC, Cardenas played for the University of Missouri and Cal State University-Northridge where she earned a B.A. in Communications in 2002. In 2004 she earned her M.Ed. in Counseling/Human Relations from Northern Arizona University.