Head coach Wendy Schuller has helped develop EWU women’s basketball from a team to a program, with an emphasis on academics.
The changes and progress of the athletic department over the years are what stand out to Schuller the most. Schuller is in her 12th season of coaching this year.
“The university has grown. It’s fun to watch it continue to grow,” Schuller said. “I think that’s the biggest thing in the past 12 years. The department has changed tremendously.”
According to Schuller, these changes have been helpful in the recruiting process of new athletes. “It’s given us more to sell. Our job has been finding players that have skills and ability, and you need something to sell them.”
During the early signing period, Schuller recruited four new players from Washington, Oregon and California who will come to play for the Eagles next year.
Schuller said that a large part of her coaching up to this point has focused on creating a lasting family with her team. “Within our program, we’ve created a culture and a family. It’s not a team anymore. It’s a program,” Schuller said. “That was my goal when I got to Eastern. I said, ‘Let’s create a women’s basketball program that people are proud of and that people want to be a part of.’”
Senior guard Jordan Schoening believes Schuller has been successful in accomplishing her goal. “I like the family atmosphere,” she said. “That’s why I came here.”
Schoening also views Schuller as more than just a coach. “She’s really good with personal stuff. I feel like I can go and talk to her,” Schoening said.
Being personally involved in her athlete’s lives serves a larger purpose for Schuller. “To me, why I love to do this is watching young women grow from teenagers who still have some things to figure out to young women ready to take on the world,” Schuller said. “I want to see them be confident young women”
The life lessons that Schuller teaches her team stand out to Schoenig. “She wants us to be successful in life, not just on the court,” Schoenig said. The lesson that has stood out to Schoenig the most has been overcoming adversity and being persistent even when times are tough.
Schuller encourages players to put academics high on their list of priorities. “Our grade point average has to be up there,” Schoening said. “It’s one of her big pushes.”
Emphasizing grades also serves a greater goal for Schuller, who said that the WNBA did not exist while she was playing college basketball. Because of this, young women did not have any opportunities to play basketball beyond the college level. Although this option is open for women now, Schuller stills encourages a strong focus on academics.
“Growing up, academics was important for me. When I played college basketball it was something that continued to be important to me,” Schuller said. “We just tell our players that no matter how good you are, you’re going to have to have a life and career beyond basketball.”
Schoenig made the Big Sky All-Academic team from 2010- 2011 and is working on a major in elementary education. Schoenig and the rest of the team will be back in Reese Court on Dec. 29 to take on Warner Pacific College.