Jeff Tambroni has made it an emphasis to put a stranglehold on Philly and South Jersey since his arrival in June 2010. He’s done an exceptional job, taking advantage of the fact that most kids in the area have grown up worshipping the Nittany Lions’ athletics or have family ties.
For Shawnee (N.J.) freshman defenseman Brett Funk, both reasons factored into his verbal to Penn State.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for the Duke’s & Big 4 stalwart to make, pulling the trigger on PSU on Sunday afternoon.
A 5-foot-9 athletic lockdown lefty defenseman, Funk has enjoyed a huge fall that likely cemented his commitment, playing great in each tournament that his club team entered. He garnered shoutouts after strong outings at QuakerFest and the Big 4 Champions League.
“Brett is a lights out cover man who is always rock solid and has an awesome lacrosse IQ. We’re working on his communication but his tenacity, motor and understanding of the defense are all huge attributes of his,” Christmas says of Funk, arguably one of the nation’s top 2018 defensemen. “Even last year we sometimes brought him up to the older Duke’s 1 group and he didn’t miss a beat – all of those kids [he played with] were blown away with how special of a defender he is and couldn’t believe his age.”
With several years to go, Funk has plenty of upside and the vital skills necessary of a top 1-on-1 defenseman. Putting on extra muscle and weight will become a focus while he balances soccer, lacrosse and academics. He’ll play a solid schedule with Shawnee in the spring as a likely starter, teaming up with fellow PSU commit Mike Shinske, a sophomore attackman and midfielder.
Read up on what Funk had to say about his verbal:
Why was Penn State the right decision for you?
I’ve always grown up around Penn State as a fan since I was a little kid. I have a lot of family in the area and I’m used to going up near State College for the holidays to see my grandmother. After talking to Coach [Jeff] Tambroni and the rest of the staff, it seems like the perfect fit for me as a person, student and lacrosse player. It was an amazing feeling to initially get the offer and I was almost shocked because it really is a dream come true to be able to play at Penn State.
How was your visit to Happy Valley?
The visit really went great, starting with talking to Coach Tambroni in his office for almost two hours. The assistant coaches [Peter] Toner and Chris [Doctor] then took my family around and showed us the university and the athletic facilities. The academics are very strong, the campus is really nice and definitely seemed like an awesome place to go to school. Overall, I really loved the team-first mentality and the way they’re coached up there. I can’t wait to be a part of Big 10 lacrosse and help grow its tradition.
How did the early process go for you? What were the other schools you considered?
The process went very smoothly – my coaches always told me just to play my game and not worry about who was watching just so I didn’t feel any stress. I was open to everybody but Penn State was always my No. 1 choice. I received a lot of interest from Air Force, Notre Dame and Ohio State. I also went to prospect camps at Michigan and Cornell.
Who would you like to thank for getting you to where you are?
First off, I want to thank my parents for always supporting me, driving me everywhere for lacrosse and always having my back. I also want to thank my coaches at South Jersey Black Storm, who I played with from fourth to eighth grade. Finally, I want to of course thank my Duke’s and Big 4 coaches: Billy McKinney, Eric Gregg, Ebe Helm and Jason Christmas.