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ONE VICTORY AWAY: Anji Weissenfluh, directing her team above, is one victory away from tying Sharon Campbell as the winningest coach in Eastern Oregon University women's basketball history. (The Observer/JOE SOVA).
ONE VICTORY AWAY: Anji Weissenfluh, directing her team above, is one victory away from tying Sharon Campbell as the winningest coach in Eastern Oregon University women's basketball history. (The Observer/JOE SOVA).

Tony Adame

Staff Writer

Basketball, it seems, has always been in Anji Weissenfluh's blood.

Mike Weissenfluh, Anji's father and assistant coach the last four years for the Eastern Oregon University women's basketball team, knows how deep the bond is between the sport and his daughter.

And, when Anji was a grade-schooler in Long Creek, so did the Weissenfluhs' neighbors.

"When Anji was just a little girl, 7 maybe, she would dribble the ball around the kitchen in our apartment for hours upon hours," said Weissenfluh. "She'd do it until it drove us all crazy. It's like she's always been driven by wanting to be the best."

In her fifth season as EOU's head coach, Weissenfluh is on the brink of being the best EOU women's coach of all time.

Her 84 wins is one short of tying the record of 85 set by former EOU coach Sharon Campbell from 1986-1993.

Weissenfluh has a chance to break and/or tie the record this weekend as EOU hosts fellow Cascade Collegiate Conference leader Oregon Institute of Technology Friday and Southern Oregon University Saturday.

Weissenfluh played for Campbell at Eastern from 1989-1993.

"As a player, Anji was like having another coach on the floor. She could see what was happening and make changes without having to call a time out," Campbell said by phone interview from her home in Desoto, Tex., where she is an elementary school teacher. "How I measured success for my players was that when they got out in the world they shouldn't have to rely on anybody but themself, and that has always been Anji's way.

"I never had any doubt she could make it. It makes me really proud to see the success she's had in basketball and softball."

Under Weissenfluh's guidance as head coach, the softball and women's basketball teams at Eastern have experienced unprecedented success.

Last season, Weissenfluh and the Mountaineers went 26-3, made their first-ever appearance at the NAIA National Basketball Tournament, won a Cascade Collegiate Conference championship and wound up ranked No. 16 in the final NAIA poll.

As softball coach, Weissenfluh has been named CCC coach of the year five times, regional coach of the year once and led EOU to the NAIA national tournament twice.

"We've been fortunate to have Anji here leading us in softball and basketball," EOU athletic director Rob Cashell said. "But it's what she does off the court, what the public doesn't get to see, that I think makes her so valuable."

It's an off-the-court impact that translates into her players' lives.

"There's definitely an edge to her," said Jamie Jo Cant, a senior who has played for Weissenfluh the last four seasons and played against her for Imbler High School when Weissenfluh was the coach at Union. "She wants her players to know that anything you do in life you shouldn't just be thinking that you're going to get through it, but that you're going to excel.

"Work, sports, school, it applies to everything."

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