Through 18 seasons, Funk's heart still at Hopkins

State notebook

Colleges

January 08, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The year was 1998. Johns Hopkins coach Nancy Funk was one of the hottest names in Division III women's basketball, having guided the Blue Jays to back-to-back NCAA final eight finishes and a combined 49-10 record.

A Division I school in the South was interested in luring Funk away from Hopkins and wanted to schedule an interview. Funk said she was content at Hopkins and felt at home at the D-III level.

However, she gave in to the urging of friends and associates who insisted she owed it to herself to talk to the school.

"I guess the school could tell my heart wasn't really in it," Funk said. "I went down there and all I did was talk about our program. It was not a serious pursuit of that job."

Now, nearly six years later, nothing has changed for Funk.

She is still a big-time winner, having reached the 300-victory milestone at Hopkins last month (302-140), and she's still chasing that elusive dream of the final four with as much passion as ever.

"I always feel like God put me here and this is where I belong," said Funk, who's in her 18th year at the school. "I feel blessed to be part of such an outstanding program and to be surrounded by people like [ninth-year assistant] Wanda Richardson."

The two quarterfinal showings highlighted a string of six straight NCAA tournament appearances, and if Funk and the Blue Jays return to the tournament this season, it will be their eighth trip in the past 10 seasons.

"I'm beginning to like this team more and more," said Funk, whose Blue Jays are 8-1 but don't have a player averaging more than 10.8 points a game. "We don't have one dominant player like Kathy Darling, but we have a good blend of six freshmen, two seniors, two juniors and two sophomores.

"Julie Miller [a 6-foot freshman forward] has been able to provide us a big early-season lift when two people ahead of her [6-0 junior Kelly Rumsey and 6-0 sophomore Amanda Leese] went down with ankle injuries."

Maureen Myers, a 5-7 senior guard, leads the team in scoring with a 10.8 average, and Miller is second at 10.2. Miller tops all rebounders at 8.4 a game.

Before coming to Hopkins, Funk compiled a 126-89 record in nine seasons as coach at Messiah (Pa.) College.

Acker in Vegas Classic

Salisbury senior tight end Kyle Acker (Annapolis) is one of two Division III players included among the 101 selected to play in the Las Vegas All-American Classic on Jan. 17 at UNLV.

Acker was named a second-team All-American by d3football.com. He had 18 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns this past season.

Towson gymnasts open

Led by graduate student Tracy Wolf, Towson will open its gymnastics season at Rhode Island on Sunday.

Wolf rates as one of the most inspirational gymnasts the Tigers have ever had, coming back after missing two seasons with a hip injury and a serious knee injury.

"She is a tremendous team leader and will be a captain again," said Towson coach Dick Filbert. "Her attitude is great and her health is good. She will be a very solid two-event gymnast for us, competing on the bars and beam."

Et cetera

Mount St. Mary's freshman guard Mychal Kearse has been chosen Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week for averaging 7.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.3 steals in three games last week. ... Johns Hopkins junior driver Brian Mead was named to the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III All-America first team last week. Senior utility Geoff McCann and senior goalkeeper Craig Smith received honorable mention.

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