Batavia grad Fruendt joins staff at Tennessee
When Liza Fruendt played basketball at Missouri State, coaches occasionally met with the team to talk about their academic progress, majors, and what they were preparing to do after graduation.
Fruendt's turn came up, but before she could say anything, assistant coach Jon Harper spoke.
"Don't worry about it," Harper said. "You are going to be a basketball coach."
"No I'm not," Fruendt shot back. "Stop telling me what I'm going to do!"
Just a couple years after those meetings, Fruendt indeed is not only back in basketball, but working on the same staff as Jon Harper and his wife Kellie.
Kellie Harper, Fruendt's coach at Missouri State, is now the head coach at Tennessee, where Jon is an assistant. Kellie Harper recently added Fruendt to her staff as a program assistant.
It's the first step in what could eventually take Fruendt, a 2014 Batavia graduate, into an assistant and eventually head coaching job.
"Being at Tennessee I think will launch me into a lot of things," Fruendt said. "I'm excited to be on staff and learn from Kellie. I admire her and Jon so much and am excited to be around such awesome people and then eventually wherever the road takes me."
Fruendt graduated from Missouri State in 2018 and spent two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
During the pandemic last year, Fruendt took a job in the business world as a senior associate consultant for Cerner Corporation, a medical software company.
It only took one year for Fruendt to get back into basketball.
"I always kept up with the Harpers," Fruendt said. "I wasn't looking too hard at getting back into basketball, but when Kellie said she had a spot on staff if interested and I'd love to have you, I told her I don't care what you have me do, I'm just ecstatic to be around the program and around them."
Fruendt will have a variety of roles as a program assistant including helping coordinate recruiting. She's looking forward to being part of one of the most storied programs in women's basketball history.
"Everyone knows Pat Summitt, everyone knows Tennessee," Fruendt said. "Just going there the tradition is so rich and there's so much to it and Kellie won three national championships under Pat so she knows how to win. She just loves Tennessee so much and you see her pass that on to her players."
The Harpers certainly know Fruendt well. Fruendt excelled on and off the court at Missouri State, named to the Missouri Valley Conference first team in 2017 and 2018, and MVC scholar-athlete first team those same two years.
Fruendt scored 1,656 career points, seventh on Missouri State's all-time list. She also was a prolific scorer in high school at Batavia, scoring 1,921 points.
Her brother Nick played basketball at Northwestern and sister Sara played at Dubuque.
Now Liza is back in the sport that has meant so much to herself and her family.
"Things are a little slower working a business job and you think of different things you could be doing," Fruendt said. "Basketball is something I've always loved and I think it's somewhere I belong. That's the most exciting part of getting back into it."