FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona women's basketball head coach Loree Payne completed her staff on Wednesday with former Gonzaga standout Vivian Frieson announced as assistant coach.
"We're very excited to add Vivian to our coaching staff," Payne said. "The culture that she has been around playing at Gonzaga – that's a winning program – where she learned under one of the best in Kelly Graves stands out. She moved back to Seattle, where her roots are, and worked at Seattle University where she got the on-court coaching experience. She brings a lot of different dynamics that we needed on our staff."
Frieson is coming off her first full-time coaching stint as an assistant at Seattle University under Joan Bonvicini, one of the most successful coaches in women's college basketball history. At Seattle, Frieson presided over the team's camp and created the curriculum for the largest camp to date. She also was the team liaison for community service, compliance and marketing.
On the court, she was involved in the player development at all positions and also served as the recruiting coordinator. In that role, she played a key role in bringing Tal Sahar to the Seattle campus, where Frieson helped develop Sahar into the WAC's second-highest scoring freshman during the 2015-16 season. Sahar also ranked as the team's second-leading scorer overall.
"This was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up," Frieson said. "Flagstaff is an amazing city from what I've seen so far and I'm looking forward to exploring it more. There's a lot of work to do here, and that's one thing that was really attractive about this opportunity. To work for Loree is amazing and she's going to be an awesome mentor."
While she is still building up her coaching resume, her playing career speaks for itself. A two-time All-West Coast Conference First Team selection and WCC All-Tournament honoree, Frieson was part of four conference championship teams at Gonzaga from 2006-10. In her four years, Frieson played in three NCAA Tournaments, and one WNIT, and was an instrumental part of Gonzaga's first Sweet 16 appearance in her final season.
Frieson and "firsts" continued as she would eventually be the first Zag to be drafted by the WNBA as she was the 31st pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft by the Tulsa Shock. She finished her career 13th in school history in points (1,106), third in blocks (132) and third in rebounds (832). After being drafted into the WNBA, Frieson played two years overseas with Kvarnby Basketball in Sweden and Townsville Fire in Australia.
"Vivian has credibility with her success as a player at Gonzaga and then being drafted to the WNBA and eventually playing professionally overseas," Payne said. "She was an undersized post in college and she found a way to be incredibly successful. That was a piece we were looking to add – someone who could work with our post players – because in the Big Sky a lot of times you're looking at undersized posts."
After her professional playing career, Frieson returned to her alma mater where she worked in several different capacities. Along with her duties as an administrative assistant and video coordinator, she was also elevated to interim assistant coach before she followed her former head coach Kelly Graves from Gonzaga to Oregon where she served as the video coordinator. At Oregon, she captured and edited film for scouts and recruiting videos for social media prior to heading to Seattle.
Frieson, a Seattle, Wash. native, graduated from Gonzaga in 2010 with a degree in public relations and minors in applied communications and promotions.