Before Amherst Angels All-Star Manager John Funk led his team to compete in the World Series in Sulphur Springs, Texas last week he reflected on the team’s success.
Last year Funk coached the younger Amherst Darlings All-Stars that also reached the World Series.
Funk, an emotional leader, reacts to the plays on the fields. Going into the Angels’ state championship game against Halifax he recalled the moment from his previous Darlings’ team which had several players on this squad when he knew his team was going to win.
“I was talking to one of the coaches and just happened to look in the dugout and saw something that just warmed my heart,” Funk said of the flashback of the Darlings’ state tournament. “Every young lady that was not on a base, not hitting or in the hole was up at the dugout entrance rooting their teammates on, not just in a normal setting but together. I told my coach ‘You see that? This game is over. They finally came together.’ At this point they are where we had talked about them needing to be ... I knew at that point we had won no matter what the score was. Just so happened we won.”
He had that same feeling in the third inning of the Angels’ state title game.
“My excitement peaked in the third inning. When I saw those 12 girls come together truly for the first time and to see this happen two years in a row. Wow,” said Funk. “These girls have practiced five to six days a week since the All-Stars were picked. They have had to learn fundamentals, new positions and plays that were new to them. To see their growth from the beginning to now. That’s why I do it. That’s what excites me, that’s what makes me want to help them on their path through this. As coaches we teach not only the game of softball — we teach respect, sportsmanship, life, then ball and to see all this come together for me, it’s an awesome feeling that you can’t explain.”
In the state title victory against Halifax, Funk’s girls came from behind for the win after being down 4-1.
“I am truly honored again to be able to represent Amherst County as the Virginia Angels XPlay Champions in the World Series and I am humbled to be able to coach my ‘12,’” said Funk. “Congratulations ladies. I am proud to call myself one of your coaches.”