Nancy Funk, who spent more than three decades leading the Johns Hopkins women’s basketball program, passed away February 6 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 66.
Funk came to Johns Hopkins – hired by then Director of Athletics Bob Scott – in 1986 after a successful nine-year tenure as the women’s basketball coach at her alma mater, Messiah College. At Homewood, she inherited an 11-year-old program that had only won a total of 44 games. Still, she saw the potential and made the jump.
When she retired 31 years later, the program that had averaged four wins per season prior to her arrival had made 10 trips to the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament, including two runs to the NCAA Quarterfinals, claimed four Centennial Conference titles and had averaged better than 17 wins per year under her guidance. Funk amassed 537 victories and her teams won exactly 67 percent of the 801 games she coached at Johns Hopkins. Her 537 victories are more than any other women’s coach – in any sport – in school history.
At Johns Hopkins, Funk coached 80 all-conference (Centennial, UAA, MAC) selections, four Centennial Conference Players of the Year, six WBCA All-Americans, two Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winners and two NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients. Ten of her players have been inducted into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame and Funk herself joined that prestigious group in 2015. She was twice named the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year and twice earned WBCA Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year honors as well.
Johns Hopkins will celebrate its 50th year of women’s athletics in 2023; when that time comes, there will not have been a more prominent figure in the program than Nancy Funk
Her legacy, easily measured by wins, conference championships and individual accolades, is hardly limited to her own team’s success. Rather, the success of the entire athletic program at Johns Hopkins was touched by Funk in some way as she mentored so many of Hopkins’ highly-successful coaches – male and female. Add in the lasting impact she had on the lives of those who played for her, and that legacy will carry on for decades to come. It was the relationships she built with her players that she remembered fondly on April 25, 2017, the day she announced her retirement.
“I cherish the 40 years of coaching that have allowed me to be a part of the lives of so many outstanding young women and their families, both during their time in college and beyond. The wonderful relationships with our alumni are very special — I am truly grateful for those relationships.”
Funk was born on April 27, 1951 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She lived in Allentown until she was in third grade, when her family moved to Philadelphia. There, she grew into the die-hard baseball and Philadelphia Phillies fan she remained for the rest of her life. Through the years, she was often seen supporting Johns Hopkins baseball coach Bob Babb’s Blue Jays wearing her signature Phillies cap.
Funk’s family later moved to Harrisburg and she attended Central Dauphin High School before enrolling at Messiah. She graduated from Messiah with a degree in nursing and a minor in biology and later earned a master’s in secondary education from then Western Maryland (McDaniel).
Despite her education in the health field, it was the call of athletics she would eventually answer. She spent those nine years at Messiah and may have been a lifer at her alma mater if not for the vision of Scott, who was in the middle of his 22-year tenure as Director of Athletics at Johns Hopkins when he decided the Blue Jay women’s basketball program could be more – so much more.
Scott’s vision led him to Nancy Funk, who spent the next 31 years building a program and building a legacy. More importantly, building lifelong, impactful relationships that make the Johns Hopkins women’s basketball program what it is today.
Funk’s family includes her husband, Dave, their children Jared, Courtney and Kelsey, and five grandchildren.
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