Hard-working. Goal-oriented. Determined. Loyal.
These are all descriptions you’ll hear repeatedly when you ask players, colleagues or loved ones about Bryce Currie.
Accurate as those may be, the 35-year-old Ferris High grad, who was promoted in May to associate coach for Eastern Washington women’s basketball, might also be a visionary.
“I knew when I was about 13 that I wanted to be a basketball coach,” Currie said.
While it isn’t uncommon for someone that age to have clarity with regard to their desired career, Currie envisioned for himself a bold and unusual path reminiscent of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”.
As a junior, the 5-foot-11 Currie was cut from the junior varsity basketball team – not uncommon in the historically dominant Saxons’ program that produced several college players during Currie’s time at Ferris – including Division I recruits Sean Mallon (Gonzaga), Eric Benzel (Denver) and Adam Seaburg (Lafayette). Failure to make a high school varsity team is typically a death knell for a potential career coaching that sport.
For Currie, that reality was merely a speed bump.
Rather than wallow in self-pity or point fingers elsewhere, he got to work, becoming a manager for the girls team at Ferris.
“Being a team manager is a great way to get into coaching if you aren’t a player,” said Christy Martin, women’s basketball coach at D-II Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Washington, and Ferris alum.
“It gives you a chance to be around the game, the players, the coaches. You can soak up that knowledge and use that experience to get your foot in the door.”
So began a journey both winding and, somehow, relatively quick to a seat next to the head coach on the bench – as well as the role of recruiting coordinator – at a Division I program.
After graduating from Ferris in 2004, Currie went to Washington and became the team manager for coach June Daugherty. Not exactly coaching, but a step in the right direction.
Currie recalled a time when Daugherty held an egg-and-spoon race spanning the length of the court.
“It was my job to pick up the shells,” he said.
But he was around the game, soaking up knowledge from a coach who led Boise State to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 1994 and guided Washington to seven – and two appearances in the WNIT – in 11 seasons with the Huskies before taking over at Washington State and leading the Cougars to three of the program’s four all-time postseason appearances.
When Daugherty wasn’t retained (despite going 18-13 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament) following Currie’s junior year, he took over as manager for the men’s team.
But his dalliance with the men’s game was brief.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Currie took a graduate assistant position on the women’s basketball staff at Arizona State. His duties included the coordination of fundraising and promotions as well as social media.
“It wasn’t ideal, but it was my role,” Currie said. “I just wanted to help the team win, so I worked to do that.
“Loyalty and understanding your role are critical to winning, so I tried to fill my roles as well as I possibly could.“
Two years and a master’s in higher education later, he applied for 30 college coaching jobs.
He had no responses, save for a position at Nebraska as graduate assistant manager, assisting with practice preparation, administrative duties and the program’s basketball camps. Something of a break came when a member of the staff became ill and Currie was asked to help with recruiting.
This time, and with a master’s in educational administration, Currie had offers to join D-I staffs – and actually coach – but opted to take a job at D-II Florida Southern in 2012.
“I was doing a little bit of everything,” he said. “There were other offers, but I wanted a little bit bigger role and I knew I’d have that opportunity at Florida Southern.”
After one season, Currie knew the fit wasn’t right and chose to move back to Spokane and work in higher education. To stay close to the game, he served as a volunteer assistant for Rob Servine at Ferris and, undeterred, coached the eighth-grade girls at Chase Middle School.
EWU coach Wendy Schuller then had an opening on her staff. Currie, who had long been working to cultivate relationships in the area’s basketball community, acquired video of an Eagles game from Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier, then an assistant under Kelly Graves, and put together a scouting report to present to Schuller.
“The No. 1 thing I look at when I hire is loyalty,” Schuller said. “Bryce gives off a sense of loyalty and character.
“If you don’t have loyalty, if you don’t have buy-in from both the staff and the team, it’s going to be really hard to be successful.”
Tasked with coaching post players, Currie proved to be a tireless worker, determined to help the team win however he could. Even if that meant being quiet.
“I had a little bit of know-it-all syndrome,” Currie said of his first year under Schuller.
“We were playing Idaho and I had helped put together the scout. We had a defensive scheme that we’d had a lot of success with, but I wanted to play man-to-man. We go into halftime losing and I wanted to keep playing man, but Coach Schuller said we were switching to that particular zone scheme. We really slowed them down in the second half and got the win.”
That is when Currie decided to talk a little less and listen a little more.
At practices, Schuller was usually around as he coached the posts. He soaked up knowledge from the veteran coach – in her 20th year at the helm in Cheney – and even, he said, some of the more experienced players.
He showed up to numerous games at various gymnasiums in the region, making himself known in the basketball community and forging bonds with coaches and players alike.
“I reach out to Bryce to talk about players, because he knows every girl in the area,” Martin said.
“He dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s,” Schuller said. “He’s a pleaser.”
Since joining the staff at EWU in 2014, Currie has become increasingly confident, nurturing his voice and expanding his role within the program. Meanwhile, the Eagles set a single-season program best for wins (22 in 2014-15) and won at least 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. The program’s career scoring record has twice been broken (Hayley Hodgins had 1,865 points from 2011-16 and sister Delaney scored 2,120 from 2014-18).
Currie’s hard work, dedication and loyalty have allowed for his rise from team manager to lead assistant at a D-I program, but his story is not yet complete. He has yet to take the reins of his own program, but he did stake his claim to his own family when he married his wife, Amanda, in 2018.
“We want to start a family and that becomes a piece of the puzzle, but it’s also an unknown,” Amanda said of what their future holds. “The most important thing to me is that Bryce is following his passion, that he’s driven and working toward something.”
Based on where he started relative to where is now, that future something is bound to be huge.
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