In the midst of a successful five-year stint in the WNBA—she was an integral member of the Houston Comets 2000 championship team—Washington joined the women’s basketball coaching staff at Notre Dame and helped lead the Fighting Irish to the 2001 NCAA championship. She was named head coach of Penn State women’s basketball in 2007 and has since groomed the raw talent of numerous top-tier players, including Tyra Grant, a second-round draft pick by the Phoenix Mercury, and defensive wiz Nikki Greene. Last season, Washington led her team to 25 victories, the most for the team in nearly a decade, and many over nationally ranked opponents. With her law degree from Notre Dame, Washington is also an exemplar of balancing athletics and academics. “She was just named Big Ten Coach of the Year and is a shining example of ethics and leadership in our field,” O’Banion said by email.