Entering her 15th season at the helm of Eastern Washington University Women’s Basketball in 2015-16, Wendy Schuller has become a household name in the Cheney and Spokane communities, leading the Eagles to new heights both on and off the court.
Eastern has advanced to the Big Sky Conference Tournament in 10 of Schuller’s 13 seasons as head coach, including the past five campaigns. She also guided EWU to its first-ever bid to the WNIT following the 2009-10 season before taking the Eagles back to the prestigious invitational at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
Under Schuller’s tutelage, players have earned a total of 29 All-Big Sky awards while Julie Piper and Brianne Ryan received Big Sky Player of the Year honors in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She also coached Julie Page to the program’s first-ever Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honor in 2004 while 2013 saw current Eagle Hayley Hodgins become the first player to earn Big Sky Freshman of the Year accolades in twenty years.
Page would go on to compete in the 2012 London Olympics as a captain for Great Britain’s national team.
Schuller has also established EWU Women’s Basketball as one of the nation’s top academic programs in her time in Cheney. The Eagles have earned a spot on the prestigious Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll in 12 of Schuller’s 13 seasons in charge, something achieved by only one other team in NCAA Division I history. Eastern has been among the top five academic teams in the country in eight of those 12 years, including the 2003-04 campaign when it led the nation with a 3.63 grade point average.
Most recently in 2013-14, Schuller coached Lexie Nelson and Hodgins to All-Big Sky honors with Nelson receiving first team accolades while Hodgins earned honorable mention recognition. The Eagles returned to the Big Sky Tournament for the fifth consecutive year and landed nine student-athletes on the Big Sky All-Academic Team.
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. 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, 14-year-old Rory and 4-year-old Brandon, and one daughter, 11-year-old Megan. The family resides in Cheney.
Freeman begins her second season with Eastern Washington in 2015-16.
An assistant coach at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, for the last two seasons, Freeman brings a wealth of knowledge after having spent time with four different collegiate programs. She served as the team's defensive coordinator at Newman, assistant with scouting and conditioning programs while monitoring player academic progress and coordinating the team's summer camps.
Before her two-year stint at Newman, Freeman spent the 2011-12 season as the director of operations at Missouri State, coordinating team travel and film exchange. From 2008-11, she was an assistant coach at Butler Community College, serving as a recruiter while also assisting with scheduling and opponent scouting.
Freeman graduated from University of the Pacific in May of 2007 with a bachelor's degree in sociology with a focus in criminal justice. She spent the 2007-08 season as a graduate assistant with Pittsburg State and is currently working on her master's degree.
A standout player for the Tigers in her time at Pacific, Freeman earned Honorable Mention All-Big West honors as a senior in 2006-07, averaging 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.