After a 31-year-long Hopkins career, Women’s Basketball Coach Nancy Funk announced her retirement last Tuesday. She leaves Hopkins with the most wins in program history.
“After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided to retire from the position I hold so dear as the head women’s basketball coach at Johns Hopkins University,” she said.
Funk’s legacy will certainly live on for years to come. First beginning her coaching career at her alma mater, Messiah College, Funk garnered a 126-89 record in her first nine years of coaching.
Coming to Hopkins in 1986, Funk inherited a program that was coming off 11 consecutive losing seasons and five different coaches over a 12-year span. But with a 12-10 winning season in 1988-89, Funk would come to radically alter the trajectory of a previously struggling Hopkins program.
“Legendary Director of Athletics Bob Scott gave me a tremendous opportunity when he offered me this position. His guidance and support, along with that of his successors, Tom Calder and Alanna Shanahan, made it a blessing to work at this University that I love and respect so very much,” Funk said.
One of Funk’s favorite memories from her time at Hopkins was when the team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time under her leadership. After winning their first-round game, the Blue Jays hosted the Montclair State University Red Hawks.
With two minutes remaining in the game, Funk recalled, “I realized we were going to win, and it struck me that we were going to the Sweet Sixteen.”
It would be the first of three trips to the Sweet Sixteen that Hopkins would make under Funk’s guidance.
Today, the results of her hard-work and leadership are easy to see. Over her 31 years at Hopkins, Funk led the Jays to 537 victories, 26 winning seasons, four Centennial Conference Championships and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. She ends her 40-year coaching career ranked eighth in NCAA Division-III history in career victories with a final record of 663-353 (0.653).
Given this tremendous record, it is unsurprising that Funk has accumulated a variety of coaching honors over her years. She has been named both Centennial Conference Coach of the Year and WBCA Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year twice throughout her career.
Funk’s second Centennial Conference Coach of the Year title was earned in what will now be known as her final season, when she led a young squad to a 13-12 record in the 2016-2017 season.
Being inducted into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015, Funk will be remembered for her accomplished coaching career.
Funk’s legacy extends beyond just her impressive on-court performances. Off the basketball court, Funk was a mentor to other young Hopkins coaches.
She served as senior women’s administrator at the University for more than 10 years, held a three-year position on the NCAA D-III Women’s Basketball National Committee and a six-year position on the Regional Committee.
Most importantly, she has served as a key advisor to hundreds of student athletes, including 80 All-Conference players.
Coach Funk attributes all this success to her assistants and players that have surrounded her throughout her career, especially Wanda Richardson, who has been Funk’s assistant coach for 23 years.
“I am eternally grateful to them for my career,” Funk said.
Though her players were certainly saddened to hear of their coach’s retirement, the women’s basketball team expressed a strong show of support for Funk’s decision.
“We were all a little surprised to hear Coach’s decision to retire, but we understand that she needed to do what was best for her,” sophomore guard Lillian Scott said. “Coach Funk put so much time and effort into the team, and her efforts are appreciated by all of us.”
Sophomore forward Marissa Varnado added to this sentiment.
“The legacy Coach Funk will leave is almost incomprehensible to myself and my teammates, as we have only experienced a small portion of what was a career that transformed women’s basketball at Hopkins,” Varnado said. “In the past year, she has shown us what true resiliency is. After this long and successful of a career, she definitely deserves a restful retirement, and we are excited for what is to come for the program.”
The national search for a new head women’s basketball coach will surely begin soon, but one thing is for certain: it will be hard to find an individual who can live up to the tremendous legacy left by Nancy Funk. She will be widely missed by the Hopkins community.