|College:||Fresno Pacific '92|
Follow Coach Schuller on Twitter - @EWUCoachShu
Under head coach Wendy Schuller, the Eastern Washington
University women’s basketball team has reached heights unseen
in Cheney in decades, both on and off the basketball court.
In 11 of the last 12 years, Schuller’s teams have earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll -- something achieved by only one other team in Division I history (Indiana State). Eastern has been among the top five academic teams in the nation in seven of those 11 years, including the 2003-04 campaign when it led the nation with a 3.63 grade point average.
Eastern has advanced to the Big Sky Conference tournament in nine of Schuller’s 12 years as head coach, including the last three in a row. She has had 15 different players named to one or more All-Big Sky Conference teams, including two league MVPs in Julie Piper (2010) and Brianne Ryan (2012), as well as the school’s first Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, Julie Page, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics as a captain for the Great Britain national team, and the first Big Sky Freshman of the Year in twenty seasons, Hayley Hodgins.
The 2012-13 campaign was a banner year for the Eagles as
Schuller led the squad to 19 wins for just the fourth time in
school history and a trip to the WNIT for the second time in school
history. Eastern won a school-record 14 Big Sky games that year,
finishing third after being picked eighth in the preseason poll.
Sophomore Lexie Nelson picked up First Team All-Big Sky honors
while senior Carrie Ojeda was an honorable mention pick.
In the 2011-12 season, Schuller led the team to a third-place finish in the Big Sky Conference -- the second-best effort for an Eastern squad since 1988-89, when the Big Sky started sponsoring women’s sports. Eastern posted a 10-6 league record, which included a school-record six road wins. Two of those were against Montana and Montana State, which marked the first-ever sweep of the Montana road trip in the history of the Eastern women’s basketball program.
But the most successful season in Schuller’s tenure -- and the best the school has seen in more than two decades -- came two years prior in 2009-10. Under her direction, Eastern Washington won its first-ever Big Sky regular-season title and hosted the league tournament for the first time in school history. Schuller was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after leading the squad to a 12-4 mark in the conference and 19-12 overall, which were the best records posted by an Eagle squad since the 1984-85 season when Eastern was still a member of the Mountain West Conference. The Eagles advanced to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, marking the school’s first national postseason appearance since the 1987 season.
Although the 2009-10 season will go down in the books as one of the most exciting years in Eastern history, Schuller started making her impressions on the EWU women’s basketball program long before that renowned season. She led the Eagles to a Big Sky tournament berth in her first six seasons, and had back-to-back .500 win seasons in conference in 2004-05 and 2005-06. To put that achievement into perspective, Eastern Washington played in just five BSC Tournaments in its first 13 years in the Big Sky before Schuller took over the reins of the program.
In 2005-06, Eastern Washington qualified for the Big Sky
Conference Championship for the seventh consecutive season and was
the fourth seed at the event for the second-straight season -- its
highest seeding since the 1994-95 campaign.
She led Eastern to a winning campaign in 2004-05 (16-12) to start the team’s second set of consecutive winning seasons for the Eagles since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 campaigns.
In 2003-04, Eastern advanced to the Big Sky Tournament semifinals for the third-straight season. Prior to that, Eastern had not made it past the first round since 1994-95.
The 2002-03 season saw Eastern earn its first winning record in 16 years at 17-12. That year, EWU barely missed making the Big Sky championship game for the first time in school history, as it fell in the semifinal round to top seed host Weber State by just nine points, 64-55.
In Schuller’s first season in 2001-02, Eastern Washington claimed a tournament quarterfinal win as the fifth seed. The Eagles topped No. 4 Northern Arizona 70-57 to mark its furthest advancement in the tournament in seven years.
Schuller’s successes at Eastern have been making waves throughout the entire Northwest. She has been a featured speaker at various basketball coaching clinics in the area.
But her contributions in the community extend beyond basketball. Every year, Schuller and her team volunteer with Special Olympics Washington, Habitat for Humanity and the Hutton Settlement -- a state residence that provides housing for orphaned children ages 5-18. Schuller was also recently named to the Spokane Guilds’ School and Neuromuscular Center Board of Directors.
Prior to arriving at Eastern, Schuller began her coaching career at Northwestern State University. In 1993, she started coaching as a graduate assistant for the Lady Demons while earning a master’s degree in sports administration.
Following graduation, Schuller became a full-time assistant, and her duties included acting as defensive coordinator and primary recruiter, working on opponent preparation and general operations. In 1997, she was promoted to associate head coach.
Her last six years at the Natchitoches, La., school saw her also serve as the senior woman administrator. In total, Schuller coached for nine seasons at NSU under head coach James Smith -- the most successful coach in Southland Conference history. In that time span, the team won 185 games and two conference titles and earned a pair of wins over top-25 teams, as one of the top-30 winningest NCAA Division I programs of the 1990s.
Schuller earned her bachelor’s degree in business in 1992 from Fresno Pacific University after playing for the Sunbirds as a shooting guard.
Her senior season, she helped lead FPU to a 25-6 record, a No. 14 ranking in the NAIA national poll and advancement to the NAIA Tournament’s Round of 16. She was also selected as an NAIA Academic All-American that season.
A native of Redlands, Calif., Schuller and her husband, Mark, have two sons, 12-year-old Rory and 2-year-old Brandon, and one daughter, 9-year-old Megan. The family resides in Cheney.
|College:||Central Washington '01|
After coaching for more than seven years under two former Eastern assistants, Steve Lowe followed suit as a full-time assistant women’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington University. Lowe officially joined the EWU staff in July 2011.
He serves as a primary recruiter for the Eagle women’s basketball team, and also assists with opponent scouting and academic support of the student-athletes. He is also the liaison for the team’s strength and conditioning program, working closely with strength coach Amir Owens with in-season and off-season workouts, as well as coordinating player development and directing Eastern's summer camps. On the court, Lowe assists with day-to-day coaching, while working mainly with the wings.
Since joining the Eagles prior to their 2011-12 campaign,
Eastern has won 35 games and has advanced to the Big Sky Tournament
in both seasons. Most recently in 2012-13, EWU won a school-record
14 Big Sky games en route to finishing third in the league
standings. The Eagles concluded that year with their second WNIT
bid in program history after winning 19 games for just the fourth
time in school history.
Lowe came to Eastern from Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., where he was the assistant to Aggie head coach Tom Webb, who coincidentally spent four years as an EWU assistant from 2004-08. But it doesn’t stop there. Lowe’s very first collegiate coaching position was as an assistant to his direct Eastern predecessor, Cheryl Sorenson.
Lowe and Sorenson coached together for three years at Bellevue Community College before Sorenson was hired at Eastern in 2007. After her departure from BCC, Lowe took over as head coach of the Bulldogs for one season before heading to Cameron.
In his most recent position as assistant coach at Cameron, Lowe was involved in all aspects of the program, including practice plans, recruiting, budget management, travel arrangements, scouting and film breakdown, strength and conditioning and community outreach.
During his tenure, Lowe helped the Aggies double their total wins from just six in 2008-09 to 13 in 2010-11. He coached five All-Lone Star Conference selections, and had two different recruits honored as LSC Newcomers of the Year.
In addition to his influence on the court, Lowe also helped to dramatically improve the academic success and community involvement of the Aggies. In his three years, the team grade point average improved from a 2.5 to 3.4, and the community service hours logged by the CU women’s basketball team grew from 197 in the 2008-09 school year to 295 in 2010-11.
Similar to his contributions at Cameron, Lowe was also instrumental in turning around the Bellevue Community College women’s basketball program. In just three years, Lowe and Sorenson took the team from a 4-22 mark to a 26-5 powerhouse. He helped lead the squad to a second-place finish in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) in 2007 and two North Division regular-season titles.
From 2004-08, he coached five All-Region first-team selections, one second-team honoree, four All-NWAACC Tournament players and four academic all-stars.
Before teaming up with Sorenson at BCC, Lowe was the head girls’ basketball coach at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Wash. He also spent more than seven years in the classroom as a special education teacher in the Lake Washington, Issaquah and Richland school districts.
Lowe is a 2001 graduate of Central Washington University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in special education. He went on to earn a master’s in technological education from Walden University in Baltimore, Md.
He is married to Brianne Lowe (formerly Smedley), who is the varsity volleyball coach at Cheney High School. They have two daughters, Harper and Kiernan.
|College:||Eastern Washington '02|
Hewa (formerly Chase) returned to her alma mater prior to the
2008-09 season after coaching the previous two years at Idaho and
the two years before that at North Idaho College.
In her first three years as a coach at Eastern, Hewa worked specifically with guards, before taking over responsibility of the posts in the 2011-12 season. Off the court, she is directly involved in recruiting, academic support and is responsible for organizing all community service efforts of the team.
In the year before Hewa arrived on campus as a coach, the Eagles went 4-25 overall and 1-15 in Big Sky Conference action. In her very first season, the Eagles nearly tripled their wins from four to 10 in 2008-09. And then in 2009-10, Hewa’s second year in the program, the Eagles celebrated the most successful season in nearly two decades, as the team captured the school’s first-ever Big Sky Conference regular-season title with a 12-4 league record, and 19-12 overall mark.
That same season, Hewa protege Kyla Evans was selected to the All-Big Sky Honorable Mention squad, and was selected as a BSC Player of the Week. Before graduating in 2011, Evans became the all-time career leader for three-point field goals made, and was one of 29 female student-athletes among all Division I, II and III schools in the nation to receive an NCAA post-graduate scholarship.
While with the Vandals, Hewa assisted with all aspects of the program in her first full-time coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level. Hewa helped recruit standout Katie Madison, who was named the WAC Newcomer of the Year and was honored on the All-WAC second team as a freshman.
In her time at NIC, Hewa helped coach the 12th-ranked Cardinals to a Region 18 title and a 24-7 mark in 2005-06.
She served as a graduate assistant coach with the Eagles from 2002-03 to 2003-04 to commence her coaching career.
As a player, Hewa was a four-year letterwinner for Eastern and earned All-Big Sky Conference honorable mention accolades as a senior. At the time, she ranked among the top 10 in the Eastern record book for career three-point field goals made with 60.
Hewa earned a bachelor’s degree in community health in 2002 and a master’s in sports psychology in 2004, both from Eastern.
Hewa and her husband, Joe, were married in December 2010. They have one daughter together, Hannah, born Jan. 22, 2011.
|College:||Eastern Washington '11|
After a successful four-year career playing for the Eagles, 2011 graduate Jessica Huntington returned her to alma mater to serve as assistant women’s basketball coach for EWU. Huntington's responsibilities include point guard development, recruiting, scouting of opponents, organization of community service and the team's Golden Eagle program, as well as providing academic support.
The 2012-13 campaign saw Eastern win 19 games for just the
fourth time in school history, earning a bid to the WNIT for the
second time in program history. The Eagles won a school-record 14
Big Sky games to finish third in the standings after being picked
eighth in the preseason poll.
Huntington was the captain and starting point guard for the Eagles in 2010, when the team captured the school’s first-ever Big Sky regular-season title and hosted the Big Sky Conference Championship as the No. 1 seed. Huntington was a four-time Big Sky All-Academic honoree, and still ranks among the top 10 in the EWU career record book for games played (117), three-point field goals made (81) and assists (414).
“The things that made Jessica a great player for us are what made her a great hire as well,” said Schuller. “Her work ethic is second to none, she has a great understanding of the game, and I love the fact that she knows this program and knows what it means to be an Eagle. I know Jessica will be able to represent our program, the athletic department and the university in a first-class manner - just as she did as a player not too long ago.”
After her senior season with the Eagles, Huntington spent the 2010-11 school year as a volunteer assistant with the squad while finishing her degree in elementary education. She spent this last year teaching in the East Valley School District in her hometown of Yakima, Wash., and coaching at East Valley High School.
Huntington was the head coach of the Red Devils junior varsity squad, and was the assistant for the varsity team. After winning the Central Washington Athletic Conference title with a 17-1 league record in 2012, the East Valley girls basketball team went on to finish second at the 2A State Tournament. Huntington helped the Red Devils to a 24-2 overall record, while the appearance in the state championship game was its first since 2003 when EVHS won the title. Huntington was a freshman on that state championship team.
“Jessica’s ability to teach and her knowledge of the game make her such a valuable addition,” said Schuller. “When she was a player, she was a great leader and really the consummate teammate. Those experiences and what she has done in the last year will help greatly when it comes to relating to the players on the team now. Our players will have a built-in respect for her, not only because she has been in their shoes, but she was the senior captain on a Big Sky Championship team, and knows exactly what it takes to get there. I am excited, and I know our staff and team are as well, to have Jessica back on campus.”
Huntington joins assistant coach Alison Hewa (formerly Chase) as the second member of the staff who has actually played for Schuller during their collegiate careers. Hewa played four years for the Eagles, including the 2001-02 season - Schuller’s first year at the helm of the program. Huntington replaced former assistant Raelynn Chaffee, who was on the staff from 2008-12. Chaffee was also a player-turned-coach, as she spent four years in an Eastern jersey from 2003-06.