Skylar Funk is a firm believer in talking about the weather. After all, using his gift of gab about the cold winter may well have helped the L&C midfielder land a soccer scholarship in the place of his dreams:
The Virgin Islands. Funk has signed a letter of intent to play soccer there as part of the University of the Virgin Islands’ fledgling NAIA program.
Call him a Kicker of the Caribbean.
“I was on a visit to a college (in Iowa),” said Funk, a sophomore at Lewis and Clark and former Telegraph Player of the Year at Alton High school. “My mom was with me and I was talking about how cold it was there.
“She told me I should look at some schools in warmer places.”
His thoughts turned to one of his favorite places to vacation - the U.S. Virgin Islands, where his family has visited several times.
“I knew there is a college there and so I just sat down and Googled it,” Funk said. “I found the coach’s name and I emailed him and sent my highlight video.
Virgin Island coach Joseph Zakowicz liked what he saw. The Buccaneers coach got in touch with Funk and sold him on the school.
“He sold me, not that it took much,” Funk said with a chuckle. “After all, it IS the Virgin Islands.
“But at the same time, I wanted to go to a school with a soccer program that can be competitive and challenging and I think (UVI) definitely can be.”
Zakowicz has had success at building other soccer programs, including Keiser University, Ave Maria University, Mid-Continent University, Oklahoma Wesley and Bethel College.
Funk admitted that while playing for L&C in a spring game Sunday at Saint Louis University, he did think about his next two years of collegiate soccer taking place in a much warmer climate.
“Weather isn’t the most important thing,” he said, “but it doesn’t hurt.”
Funk, who will receive an Associate’s Degree this spring from L&C, plans to major in Business at UVI.
Other colleges Funk was considering included William Penn and McKendree. Once he began thinking outside the box, however, the Virgin Islands went from a pipe dream to reality.
“I’m happy with my decision,” Funk said. “As a junior coming in, I think I’ll be looked at as an older player and hopefully can use some of that experience.”
In his two seasons at L&C, Funk made a name for himself as a hard-working midfielder/defender. His intensity and ability to track down the ball and then intelligently distribute it made him a favorite of coaches Tim Rooney and Ryan Hodge.
“Coach (Rooney) and Hodge being there helped me a lot,” Funk said. “They taught me and helped me grow. I can’t thank them enough.”
At UVI, Funk will be playing with teammates from places around the globe.
“They’re recruiting players from places like Argentina, England, Brazil and Kenya,” said Funk, who added that having played with international teammates at L&C could be a help.
“I learned so much from (international) players at L&C,” he said. “Once you get the communication in place, soccer is a language we all understand.”
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