Washington to address Wilkes-Barre graduates

Coquese Washington, the first female African-American head coach in Penn State history and the fifth head coach of the Penn State women's basketball program, has been selected as the guest speaker for this year's commencement exercise at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Washington will address the 2008 graduating class on May 17, at 10:00 a.m. inside the Athletics and Recreation building.

Before becoming the Penn State Lady Lions head coach in April of 2007, Washington spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for Notre Dame, including the last two as the associate head coach. During Washington's eight seasons on the bench, the Fighting Irish 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 Notre Dame secure eight consecutive Top 25 recruiting classes. This, according to Blue Star Index, was a feat accomplished only by two other women's college basketball programs in the country.

While competing at the professional level, Washington had a successful six-year career in the Women's National Basketball Association, playing for the New York Liberty, Houston Comets and Indiana Fever. She played an important role in leading the Comets to the WNBA title in 2000. More recently, Coquese Washington was honored as the 2008 "Rising Star" by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

In 1992, Washington graduated a full year ahead of schedule from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor of arts degree in History. Then in 1997, she obtained her juris doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Washington resides in Port Matilda, Pennsylvania with her husband, Raynell Brown, and their three-year-old son Quenton.