Up­per Dublin names new girls’hoops coach

The Ambler Gazette - - OPINION - By Mike Prince

Af­ter seven years as the jayvee boys’ bas­ket­ball coach at Up­per Dublin, Mor­gan Fun­sten has fi­nally been given the op­por­tu­nity to do what he’s al­ways wanted to do – be the head coach at a school where he also teaches.

On Mon­day night, Fun­sten was of­fi­cially hired as the new coach for the Up­per Dublin girls’ bas­ket­ball team, tak­ing over for since Catan­zaro, who was at the helm for 11 years.

Fun­sten, who teaches high school math, has been coach­ing bas­ket­ball for eight years, while also be­ing the as­sis­tant coach for the Up­per Dublin boys’ soc­cer team. And now, just days af­ter be­ing hired, Fun­sten has al­ready be­gun work­ing with his new team.

“We had our first open gym on Tues­day,” he said, “so we’re go­ing to be see­ing a lot of each other be­fore prac­tice of­fi­cially be­gins in kovem­ber. I saw the post­ing and I felt like it was a coach­ing job that was just too good to pass up, so I put my name in the run­ning.”

Fun­sten was orig­i­nally no­ti­fied on July 25 that the job would be his.

“I was real ex­cited,” he said. “I had in­ter­viewed about two weeks prior and I had to check my email and voice­mail like 25 times a day. I was so anx­ious to find out and when I got the call, I was ec­static.”

Up­per Dublin’s sports pro­grams have been led by Hope Donnell for the past few years, who sat in as the school’s ath­letic di­rec­tor. But Eric dreiner, who was with Up­per Dublin in pre­vi­ous years, has stepped back in as the school’s AD and is very con­fi­dent with the de­ci­sion to go with Fun­sten.

“I am ex­cited about the pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm that Coach Fun­sten has for the sport and that he will bring to the girls’ pro­gram,” dreiner said. “He has an ex­cit­ing vi­sion for the fu­ture of the girls’ bas­ket­ball team at Up­per Dublin and looks to continue with the win­ning tradition that has been es­tab­lished.”

That win­ning tradition, which has been con­sis­tent over the past few sea­sons, saw the iady Car­di­nals fin­ish last sea­son with an over­all record of 23-S, in­clud­ing a sec­ond place fin­ish in the Subur­ban One Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence, as well as a berth in the PIAA Class AAAA tour­na­ment.

And Fun­sten, who pointed out how some coaches take over for teams and have to start re­build­ing, cited his team’s re­cent suc­cess as one of the best as­pects of tak­ing over at Up­per Dublin.

“Some­times, you have a pro­gram that is re­build­ing, but this op­por­tu­nity is not one of those,” Fun­sten said. “It’s a cham­pi­onship-cal­iber pro­gram and I feel like I’m

step­ping right into it and that was very ex­cit­ing to me when choos­ing this job.”

Up­per Dublin lost two of its key starters to grad­u­a­tion, in­clud­ing 1,000-point scorer Tay­lor Bryant, but it re­turns three starters and a num­ber of key bench play­ers from last year’s team.

“It’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge, but the re­turn­ing starters and the other girls who played im­por­tant min­utes have a lot of tal­ent and com­mit­ment, so I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what they bring to the ta­ble,” Fun­sten said. “It’s al­ways a bit of a learn­ing curve with a new coach, but we’re go­ing to try to meet with the girls as much as pos­si­ble.”

Fun­sten said that his staff is still “a work in progress,” and he and Greiner will sit down to fig­ure out what mem­bers of the coach­ing staff will be brought back for this win­ter sea­son.

But even with all the uncer­tain­ties – whether they be the coach­ing staff, who will be re­plac­ing the lost starters or how the girls will re­spond to a new coach, Fun­sten said that he’s be­yond ex­cited to be­gin coach­ing a new team, es­pe­cially one at a school where he can teach and see the kids out of prac­tice.

“It was im­por­tant for me to be a teacher at a school where I taught and I’m ex­cited about that,” he said. “I al­ready know a lot of the play­ers and will see them in school and I think we’ll be able to com­pete for a league cham­pi­onship and an­other state play­off berth. This was just one of those op­por­tu­ni­ties that I could not pass up and I’m ex­cited.”

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