A new sports leader

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Girls’ hockey coach hopes to draw from experience on the ice

At 27 years old, Josh Funk has experience coaching at hockey programs in Shakopee, Ohio, Texas and St. Paul. Now he plans to use his experience to improve the Albert Lea girls’ hockey team.

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Funk will lead the Tigers this season after former girls’ hockey coach Jason Fornwald made the transition to the Albert Lea boys’ hockey team.

Funk hopes to oversee player improvement, and he sees building blocks on the team.

“It’s a young group of girls with a couple of good senior leaders,” he said.

Funk hopes a quality varsity program will motivate younger players to continue playing, and he described himself as a “high-energy” coach who encourages confidence and the ability of players to learn from mistakes they make on the ice.

“If a player makes a physical mistake in the game, I’m not going to harp on her for it,” Funk said. “I’m going to ask that she just learns from it and tries different things next time.”

The season begins in a couple of weeks. Tryouts will span two days later this month, and the team’s first practice is Nov. 1.

Funk will play a leading role in the girls’ hockey program off the ice.

A barbecue potluck at 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at City Arena will allow people to meet Funk, and he runs a power skating and mental training company, Essential Edge.

He will operate the off-ice training facility at Snap Fitness in Albert Lea.

Funk described himself as “fun” and “outgoing” as a coach. 

“I like to bring fun to the rink every time I show up,” he said.

A Twin Cities native, Funk played hockey and baseball at Gustavus Adolphus College. He started his coaching career in Shakopee, bringing the A Pee Wee hockey team to the regional tournament for the first time. He later coached the A Bantam squad before becoming an assistant coach at Miami University in Ohio as a graduate student.

Funk was an assistant coach for the Sugar Land Imperials hockey team in the NA3HL hockey league in Texas before becoming an assistant coach at St. Catherine University in St. Paul for one year.

Though he received interest from two other schools before deciding to coach Albert Lea, Funk said he was drawn to the community.

“I like the culture in Albert Lea,” he said. “I like the culture of the community. I like the community-based program. I like the fact that the community supports the high school teams, and it’s also encouraging to see a young team who can learn a lot from me coming in.”

The sport of hockey has been in Funk’s blood since he was a toddler, and his family has had success competing in figure skating and hockey. He is not related to Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk.

“It’s really just been part of my life since I was 2,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot hockey-wise, but also outside of the rink — how to apply what I’ve learned in hockey to real life.”

Funk said he is excited to see how players develop in hockey and in life and how girls apply his teaching to games and practices.

To Funk, the competition and teamwork the sport of hockey brings are good parts of the sport.

“I love just getting out to the rink,” he said. “One of my favorite things to do is just go and stand on the ice when I walk into the arena, and just opening up the door and just looking at the ice, breathing in the cold air and just the fun and the passion that it brings.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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