Setting up a career: How one former Douglas College Royals found success as a coach
By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations
Alum Paul Funk has made a name for himself in varsity volleyball. After getting his start as a setter for the Douglas College Royals men’s volleyball team, Paul built his career coaching local teams before landing a position as assistant coach for Team Canada Volleyball and head volleyball coach for Örebro Volley in Sweden.
And he hasn’t slowed down. For the past 15 years, Paul has been the head coach for the women’s volleyball team at the University of Guelph, where he won the Ontario University Athletics West Coach of the Year award for two consecutive years.
A unique approach
While Paul’s career has taken him across the country and around the globe, his connection to Douglas came from a much different trip.
“My family moved from Manitoba to B.C. when I was young so that my dad could take a job at the College,” Paul says, whose dad, Otto Funk, was one of Douglas’s first employees when the College opened in 1970. His mom, Nettie Funk, also joined the Douglas family and worked in the library.
Despite the family connection, it was Paul’s junior high volleyball coach who paved his way to Douglas.
“At the time, the plan was to become a high school PE teacher,” Paul explains, who completed physical education courses while at the College. “I wanted to continue playing volleyball and had a connection with my former coach, who had since moved on to coach at Douglas. I had heard good things about the College’s physical education program, so going to Douglas just made sense.”
With the Douglas College Royals, Paul went on to play in the Pacific Western Athletic Association Volleyball Provincial Championships in 1986, where they placed first.
After graduating from Douglas, the head coach of the Royals women’s volleyball team – a former teammate of Paul’s – asked him to help coach the team.
“The coach needed extra help with his setters, the position I played,” Paul says. “It started as two days a week, but it very quickly became a lot more.”
Paul’s education and experience as a player proved to be valuable assets to the team and ultimately launched his career.
“It opened a new understanding of what I wanted my career to be,” says Paul, who eventually went on to complete his physical studies and sports science degree at the University of Winnipeg. “As a coach, I’m able to stay involved in the game. Giving back and passing along my knowledge that other players can benefit from is satisfying and rewarding.”
A member of the Royals family
Nearly 30 years after his time at Douglas, Paul continues to remember his time at the College fondly.
“The teammates I had when I was a player at Douglas are spread all over the country, and in some cases all over the continent,” says Paul. “It doesn’t matter how far we are, I still keep in touch with those guys on a regular basis because our time at Douglas was something that we really enjoyed and where we established a connection with one another.”
“The teammate who originally got me into coaching all those years ago was the best man at my wedding,” he adds. “My teammates are part of my family.”