Funk gets early start as Annapolis coach

July 30, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Brian Funk had often thought about someday coaching a cross country team.

"But I didn't think I'd be doing it this soon," he said.

Funk was hired last week as the boys cross country coach at Annapolis High School, replacing Tom Neiles, who is on a one-year leave of absence. At 22, Funk is one of the youngest head coaches ever in Anne Arundel County.

He applied for the job two weeks ago and was hired last Thursday by Annapolis athletic director Fred Stauffer.

"To be honest, I thought I had it halfway through the interview," Funk said last week. "He asked if I would be interested in eventually helping with the indoor and outdoor track teams, as well. I thought I must have given him a good interview."

Stauffer said he chose Funk over several "interested candidates."

"Brian showed a lot of maturity for a young guy. I like his enthusiasm. He'll be good for the program," Stauffer said.

The girls team also will have a new coach, with Ken Goncz.

"Kenny has done a nice job for us with the track teams the last few years. He's really built up the program," Stauffer said.

Funk, who lives in Crownsville, was a four-year member of Old Mill's cross country team. As a senior captain in 1988, he placed second in the county and region meets, and ninth in the states. He also competed on the Patriots' track teams for four years, and placed fourth in the 800-meter run in the state meet.

Funk was a member of Towson State University's cross country and track teams for four years before being graduated in May with a degree in mass communications. He won the East Coast Conference 800-meter indoor championship as a junior, and holds school records in the indoor 800 and mile relay and outdoor mile relay.

"[Coaching] is something I've always wanted to do, but I wanted to go about this later in life," he said. "But my longtime friend, [Old Mill assistant coach] Leon Walters, informed me there was a position available at Annapolis and thought of me. Since I didn't have any plans for the fall, as far as a job, I thought I'd pursue it."

Walters said: "He has no coaching experience, and it makes us feel good at Old Mill that Fred had enough confidence in us to pick one of our lads to coach his team."

Funk sees advantages in his youth, as well as a potential conflict.

"I think I am more in touch with the kids," he said. "A lot coaches are so far removed and the age gap is so huge that they don't understand their kids. I know where they're coming from, and I can relate to them. And I know when they're trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

"The only possible problem is them not respecting me, but they will find out very quickly who the coach is."

*

Stauffer said he will begin advertising Annapolis' vacant girls basketball coaching position in either late August or early September.

"We're not doing anything there until I get the fall sports under way," he said. "We'll have the month of September to get our applicants together."

Whoever lands the job will have a tough act to follow. Teresa Ross moved to Kansas after getting married, ending a three-year coaching stint at Annapolis during which the Panthers reached the playoffs the past two seasons. The job she did turning around the program was nothing short of remarkable.

Stauffer had hoped that Ross would move back into the area, but she is expecting her first baby and apparently will stay put for now.

*

It has become a yearly occurrence at South River High School -- and a major headache for athletic director Jim Haluck.

Once again, Haluck is scrambling to fill coaching vacancies at the Edgewater school. With fall practices beginning in a couple of weeks, he needs head coaches and assistants in field hockey and women's soccer.

Michelle Lamarre-Walden left the field hockey program after having a baby. She was hired on Aug. 20 last summer as a replacement for Laura Garner, who departed after one season to join the Air Force.

Leann Shuck is attending college and will not return as girls soccer coach. She, too, had just completed her first season at South River.

"Every year, it seems like I'm looking for coaches. Anyone with experience, please send them our way," Haluck said, laughing.

Haluck also is seeking assistant coaches for the wrestling and softball teams. And there is a possibility Ken Dunn will not return as the basketball and baseball coach.

On a positive note, the school has hired Ronald G. Price as women's basketball coach and Marlene Kelly as softball coach.

Price's first obstacle was overcoming the stigma attached to his name, which is similar to Ronald W. Price, the former Northeast social studies teacher and softball coach who was arrested in April and charged with sexually abusing a female student.

"The poor guy has been going through hell since this happened," Haluck said of his newest coach. "He's been with South River for 14 years, and he teaches science. He also is our head tennis coach. They're two totally different people."

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