The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors announced the 2019 Women’s Induction Class and among the list of distinguished honorees is Huntington University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lori Culler.
Culler, a 33-year veteran at Huntington, has been tabbed the 2019 Indiana Fever Silver Medal Award recipient. Each year the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame awards this honor to a living person based upon outstanding contribution to Indiana high school basketball in a capacity other than an Indiana high school basketball player or coach.
Winners of this honor come from backgrounds including administrators, sportswriters, sportscasters, college coaches and others. Culler is in good company as one of only 18 individuals to earn this badge including the likes of Muffet McGraw, Tamika Catchings and Lin Dunn.
“I’m deeply honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” said Culler. “I’m thankful to Huntington University for the opportunity I was given 33 years ago to pursue a passion.
“It has been such a blessing to be surrounded by caring mentors, loyal assistant coaches and talented players who have been on this journey with me. I’m grateful for the impact each one has had on my life and for the part they’ve played in this honor.”
Culler’s career at Huntington began as a student-athlete in 1982 when she transferred in as a sophomore. The 6-0 forward racked up 1,307 career points during her three years in green and white and was the third women’s player to join Huntington’s 1000 Point Club. She was a member of the 1984 NCCAA national championship basketball team and received NAIA Academic All-American and Honorable Mention All-American honors.
Culler was a player turned coach but took a rather unique path to get there. After using up her athletic eligibility but still a student in the fall of 1985, she took to the sidelines as an assistant coach. Several games into the season, she was informally tabbed the interim head coach before being officially hired as the permanent head coach for the 1986-87 season.
“As an institution, we are so proud of what Coach Culler has accomplished in her coaching career at Huntington University,” said HU President Sherilyn Emberton. “We are equally proud of her ability to do that with a focus on faith and scholarship.
“Her teams are often characterized by their discipline on and off the court, as well as the Christ-like content of their character.”
Culler is the winningest active NAIA Division II women’s basketball coach in the nation. She entered the 2018-19 season boasting a 576-377 (.604) record. Her teams, which have won an average of 18 games during her 32 years, have recorded 24 winning seasons. Her resume also includes six NAIA National Tournament appearances and two NCCAA national championships.
Thirty times her players have earned NAIA and/or NCCAA All-American honors, and on 74 occasions players have received All-Conference honors, including two Conference Player of the Year honorees in Amy Bechtel (1999) and Miranda Palmer (2017).
Culler, with seven conference championships and a pair of conference tournament championships under her belt, is well-respected and has the longest tenure among her Crossroads League peers.
“When I came into the league in 1998, Lori was one of the few coaches that welcomed me right away when I was hired at Bethel College,” said current Taylor University Coach Jody Martinez. “Our friendship has only grown since that year.
“Her commitment for her student-athletes development goes way beyond the court; it’s about their lives as women and their pursuit with their relationship with Christ. Lori is well respected by many and it is a blessing to be her friend!”
The veteran coach has won nine Conference Coach of the Year awards, was twice named the NCCAA National Coach of the Year, was a 2006 inductee of the Huntington University Hall of Fame was named the 2008 Huntington University Alumnus of the Year. Culler has served 15 years as athletic director at Huntington University, a role she currently holds.
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 18th Annual Women’s Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019. The day’s events will include a free reception at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum that afternoon and a banquet that evening at the Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis.