Feb. 28, 2012
After leading Penn State to its first Big Ten regular-season women’s basketball title since 2004, former Notre Dame student-athlete Coquese Washington (’92) was selected as the Big Ten Coach of the Year Monday by both the conference’s coaches and media.
Penn State’s 13 Big Ten wins during the 2011-12 campaign are the most since the 2004-05 season. The Lady Lions have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 all season and are currently ranked ninth, the team’s highest ranking since the 2003-04 campaign. Penn State has increased its Big Ten win total in each of Washington’s five seasons in Happy Valley.
Washington was named the fifth head coach of the Penn State women’s basketball program in 2007 after serving as an associate head coach and assistant coach for eight seasons under Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame. During Washington’s time on the Fighting Irish staff, Notre Dame amassed a 188-69 record with eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including four Sweet Sixteen runs and a National Championship in 2001.
Washington was a four-year starting point guard (1989-93) 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 the Irish to three MCC Tournament titles. Washington paced the team in steals in each of her four seasons and was tops on the squad in assists three times. She is first on the Irish’s all-time steals per game list (2.7), second in career steals (307), fifth in assists (554).
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 law degree from the University.
Upon graduation, Washington embarked on a professional basketball career and played six seasons in the WNBA with the New York Liberty, Houston Comets and Indiana Fever. She helped lead the Comets to the WNBA title in 2000.
During her playing career, Washington utilized her Notre Dame law degree to help create the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA). She served as the founding president of the WNBPA from 1999 until 2001 and led negotiations for the association’s first collective bargaining agreement during that time. She served as executive vice president of the organization from 2001 until her retirement in 2003.
A standout at Central High School in Flint, Mich., Washington was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in December 2009.
Washington and her husband, Raynell Brown, have a son, Quenton (6), and a daughter, Rhaiyna (2). They reside in Port Matilda, Pa.
— ND —