The Daily Evergreen

Top-20 WSU athletics’ influential figures: No. 16 to 20

Three of five picks helped turn around WSU sports programs

WSU+Head+Coach+June+Daugherty+talks+to+her+team+in+the+Jan.+27+game+against+Stanford.+WSU+lost+87-44.
WSU Head Coach June Daugherty talks to her team in the Jan. 27 game against Stanford. WSU lost 87-44.

WSU Head Coach June Daugherty talks to her team in the Jan. 27 game against Stanford. WSU lost 87-44.

YULING LIU | Daily Evergreen file

YULING LIU | Daily Evergreen file

WSU Head Coach June Daugherty talks to her team in the Jan. 27 game against Stanford. WSU lost 87-44.

BRADEN JOHNSON, Evergreen columnist

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20. Jane LaRiviere

The WSU rowing head coach has taken six of her past seven teams to the NCAA Championship, including an eighth place finish in 2015. Currently in her 16th year at the helm, LaRiviere has established WSU as one of the premier rowing programs in the country, as the Cougars were ranked for both the entirety of 2015 and 2016. LaRiviere expanded WSU Athletics’ international recruiting efforts into Europe and Canada while increasing the global pipeline of student-athletes coming through Pullman. LaRiviere is the longest tenured head coach at WSU, and one can argue she is the most successful of all 12 head coaches in the WSU Athletic Department. LaRiviere ranks higher on the list if the rowing team is able to unseat Washington and California atop the Pac-12 hierarchy, place in the top-three at the NCAA Championship and if she can bring greater exposure to WSU’s varsity sport.

19. Madison Hedding

ZZU CRU president since 2016, Hedding concentrated on making basketball relevant on the Palouse again. The third-year student’s Weekend at Ernie’s campus-wide date dash is perhaps the best embodiment of her work in generating student publicity and attention toward a pair of basketball teams that have posted back-to-back losing seasons. She is somewhat of a liaison between the student body and the higher-ups of the Athletic Department, including football Head Coach Mike Leach, and has one of the broader perspectives in communicating student interests. Hedding has also taken an interest in connecting the WSU alumni base with the student body.

“It’s just really important for them to reconnect their experiences,” she said in a Sept. 20 interview. “We have an alumni base that’s so supportive, and I think ‘Go Cougs’ really just signifies that community.”

18. June Daugherty

The 11th-year women’s basketball Head Coach earned a contract extension through 2022 after leading a young, injured Cougars team to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament semi-finals in March. Daugherty spurned a push back to respectability on the West Coast for a program that had just eight eligible players at the time of her hiring in 2007. She has earned WNIT berths in three of the past four seasons. Daugherty is also the leading figure of the Athletic Department in WSU’s global recruiting efforts, as the 2017-2018 team has seven nationalities represented on its roster. The program has seen its recruiting presence strengthen on the West Coast too, as the 2016 class featured five-star Chanelle Molina — the first in program history — and four-star athletes Cameron Fernandez and Kayla Washington. A 0-2 start to the season campaign underscores the final steps Daugherty must take to skyrocket up this list, consistently finishing with a win-loss record above .500 and securing an NCAA Tournament berth.

17. Jordan Frost

Enrolling at WSU for a fifth year to serve as ASWSU President and face of the student body, Frost spearheaded one of the most critical policy proposals to unify the WSU Athletic Department with the Pac-12’s legislative body. Frost proposed a policy in a letter written in late-June that would disqualify athletes from competing for a WSU sports team with a “conviction or guilty plea for rape, stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment.”

“You set that policy, and they’re not only thinking about eligibility in terms of SAT scores and grades, but they’re also realizing that their behavior will impact their ability to compete in college sports,” he said in an interview with the Spokesman-Review on July 19. “And I think that is a huge, huge deal.”

Frost said the policy proposal was made “proactively” after The Oregonian reported on June 8 that Oregon State baseball player Luke Heimlich was convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl in 2012. It was unknown if the university or athletic department was aware of his conviction.

The policy proposal highlights the inherent value the ASWSU president shares with the student body and Athletic Department. Frost is the leading figure in unifying student interests with athletic officials.

16. Morgan Weaver

As a sophomore forward for WSU soccer, Weaver has earned the respect of Head Coach Todd Shulenberger and other observers as being one of the best all-around athletes on campus. Weaver has led the Cougars in back-to-back seasons for goals scored, gaining national recognition as a result.

“She’s got a better supporting cast around her, so the pressure is now not just on her,” Shulenberger said. “She’s gaining respect in a different way, because now [teams] have to watch other players.”

Weaver’s scoring ability in front of the goal allows other forwards and midfielders to spread the ball around the field for more room to shoot. The Cougars have posted 11 shutouts this season, but Weaver’s impact on developing a young front line has had a great impact in pushing the program to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She has two years of eligibility remaining and is the straw that will stir how far the program will go with this cast of players.

The University Place native is known for promoting matches on campus and connecting with the student body beyond the field.

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Top-20 WSU athletics’ influential figures: No. 16 to 20