Coaching StaffCoquese Washington: Coquese Washington was introduced as the fifth head coach of the Penn State women's basketball program on April 23, 2007. Washington is the first female African-American head coach in Penn State history.
The Lady Lions continued their return to the national spotlight in 2012-13 as they collected their second-straight Big Ten regular-season title and seventh overall with a 26-6 overall record and 14-2 mark in conference play. In each of Washington's first six years, Penn State has improved their Big Ten win total. The Lady Lions posted their third consecutive 25-win season, joining the 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 squads as the only teams in program history to accomplish the feat. Penn State also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over Cal Poly. The Lady Lions were consistently ranked in the Top 10 for most of the season and finished eighth in the Associated Press Top 25 and 12th in the USA Today Sports Coaches' Poll.
Washington came to Happy Valley after eight seasons as an associate head coach and assistant coach under Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame, her alma mater. During Washington's eight years on the bench, Notre Dame amassed a 188-69 record with eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including four Sweet Sixteen runs and a National Championship in 2001.
One of the top recruiters in the country, Washington was instrumental in helping the Irish to secure eight consecutive Top 25 recruiting classes, according to "Blue Star Index," a feat only accomplished by two other programs in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee).
During her tenure at Notre Dame, Washington coached five All-Americans and had seven players that were drafted into the WNBA. Washington, in her role as the guards coach, was directly responsible for developing three All-Americans and two Frances Naismith Pomeroy Award winners for the nation's top player 5-8 or under, including Niele Ivey and Megan Duffy. Washington also directed Alicia Ratay, who is the NCAA's career three-point field goal percentage leader.
Washington was a four-year starting point guard for Notre Dame under McGraw and was the team captain on Notre Dame's first-ever NCAA Tournament team. She was a two-time All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) selection and led Notre Dame to three MCC Tournament titles. Washington led the team in steals in each of her four seasons and was tops on the squad in assists three times. Washington is first on UND's all-time steals per game list (2.7), third in career steals (307), sixth in assists (554).
The epitome of a student-athlete, Washington graduated from Notre Dame in 1992, a full year ahead of schedule, with a bachelor's degree in history. She went on to attain "Double Domer" status in 1997 after earning her Juris Doctorate from the Notre Dame Law School.
Washington juggled finishing her law degree with the start of her professional basketball career. She returned to the hardwood as a professional in 1997-98, playing for the ABL's Portland Power before spending a two-year stint with the WNBA's New York Liberty (1998-99). Washington moved to Houston for the 2000 season, where she played an instrumental role in leading the Comets to the WNBA title. She had a solid season in 2001 with the Comets and Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor, finishing ninth in the WNBA in assists and fourth in steals as Houston earned its fifth consecutive playoff berth. Washington started the 2002 campaign with Houston before being traded to the Indiana Fever at the midway point of the season. Washington guided the Fever to their first-ever playoff berth and became the first player in WNBA history to lead three different teams to the postseason. She finished her professional career in 2003 as a member of the Fever.
Utilizing her law degree, Washington was a central figure in helping create the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA), serving as the founding president of the WNBPA from 1999 until 2001. She also served as the Executive Vice President of the WNBPA from 2001 until her retirement in 2003. Washington led negotiations for the association's first collective bargaining agreement as the association's president, and as the executive vice president was a mainstay in the negotiations for the league's second collective bargaining agreement, which brought about the first free agency system in women's professional sports.
In addition to assisting with the efforts of the Pink Zone at Penn State to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, Washington created Coquese's Drive for the Women's Resource Center. The first four Coquese's Drive for the Women's Resource Center raised more than $98,000 for the Centre County Women's Resource Center to aid in the fight against domestic violence.
Washington is currently serving on the 29-member WBCA Board of Directors, where she is the Vice President/President-Elect of the Executive Committee after a three-year stint as Treasurer. Washington is also a member of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund Board of Directors and the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee.
Damon continued to develop wing Ariel Edwards into a solid offensive and defensive weapon for the Lady Lions. Edwards improved her scoring average for the second-straight season, chipping in 7.9 points per game. She also tallied 10 blocks and 10 steals while drawing some of the opponents' most athletic players. Damon also worked with Gizelle Studevent, who posted career high in points (61). Studevent also excelled off the court where she was honored as an inaugural member of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team for her efforts with the creation of the anti-bullying program Penn State Athletes Take Action.
Fred Chmiel: Fred Chmiel (pronounced shuh-MEAL) joined the Lady Lion coaching staff in May 2010. Chmiel came to Happy Valley after spending the previous two years at San Diego State University as an assistant coach. Chmiel's primary responsibility is working with the guards. He also serves as the team's defensive coordinator, takes a lead role in opponent scouting and assists in all recruiting efforts.
Chmiel played a pivotal role in helping backcourt mates Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas develop into first team All-Big Ten and All-America performers.