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.