Alyssa Funk poised to become fixture on Canada’s offensive line

On any football team, the foundation upon which the effectiveness of the offensive attack is built upon is its offensive line. With host country Canada featuring several offensive linemen making their international debuts at the 2017 IFAF Women’s Worlds, the seeds for the future were planted, as the potential for even greater glories in the future holds greater promise than ever.

Among these remarkable gridiron goddesses of the line making their debut was also one of the youngest on the roster. Possessing a tremendous maturity and a keenness to learn, Alyssa Funk represents such great potential.

Funk (#62) lining up against Team Australia (Credit: Diz Ruptive Photography)

Having recently completed her third season with the Saskatoon Valkyries, highlighted by a WWCFL championship in 2016, Funk’s career is more than a monument to the game’s future. With tremendous poise and maturity, she is providing the Valkyries and Team Canada a cornerstone for their offensive line to build around.

While Funk (along with fellow Valkyries and Team Canada competitor Carly Dyck) participated in the City of Saskatoon’s Play Like A Girl event, establishing herself as a role model, her ascension to world-class status has certainly represented one of Canada’s feel-good stories. In reflecting on the honour of being named to Team Canada, it was the validation of a blossoming career defined by devotion and a solid work ethic,

”When I read the email congratulating me on being selected for Team Canada it was really overwhelming and exciting because I had put a lot of hard work into making that dream a reality and it was all worth it.

I honestly think it took right until I was packing for training camp for it to totally sink in though, something about getting all the TC clothes and knowing I’d soon be on a plane to the world championship tournament just made it feel more realistic.”

Such a dream quickly became a reality upon wearing the Team Canada jersey for the first time. The emotion of such a moment was one that shall be treasured for the remainder of Funk’s career.

“The first time I put on the Canada jersey was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had in my life. Everything felt absolutely perfect, like I was right where I wanted to be.

It was before the first game of the tournament so I’ll admit I was a bit nervous too, but everything had been so surreal until that moment and that’s the same moment I had to put myself into game mode and treat it just like any other football game, leaving it all on the field and playing to the best of my ability.”

The journey of wearing Canada’s jersey is one that was enhanced by the presence of Jaime Lammerding, another member of the Valkyries offensive line, emphasizing the team’s spirit of family which extends into all facets of the game. Part of Canada’s contingent that earned a silver medal at the 2013 edition of the IFAF Women’s Worlds, Lammerding is an exemplar of greatness.

Having worn the Valkyries colours since their inaugural season, Lammerding is wedded to the team’s roots, while providing Funk an invaluable mentor and friend to emulate. Of note, the two not only shared in the jubilation of a 2016 WWCFL championship, they were both part of Team Saskatchewan’s roster that captured the 2016 Canadian national women’s championship.

Sharing in such treasured milestones, the chance to be teammates for a third time extended a great gridiron odyssey. Looking up to Lammerding, having her part of Team Canada certainly added prestige.

“Having Jaime around before we left Saskatoon was a huge help for me because she had played for TC previously. I went up to her countless times before tryouts asking questions about what I should expect and up until the night before we left for worlds I was still asking advice on what to pack.

I have never played a football game without her being there, so it was refreshing to always have a familiar face on the sidelines, in the change room, and especially on the field. As offensive lineman we communicate well together and we can always trust each other to do our jobs well on the field so it was nice to have the opportunity to play with her again on the line.”

With Canada’s offensive line coach Chris Hengen-Braun (Image supplied by Funk)

With such a tremendous time filled with monumental milestones, there was no shortage of highlights and treasured moments for Funk. Reflecting on her jubilant Team Canada experience, there is an outpouring of praise towards teammates and staff alike, all part of a collaborative effort that enriched the chance to grace the gridiron in Vancouver for Funk,

“I thought a lot about what my favourite moment was, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. I already mentioned putting on the Canada jersey for the first time, which was definitely a highlight.

Another one for me was getting to represent Canada while playing for a world championship under the lights in my home country, very few people get to experience something like that so I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given.

I got to play alongside the most incredible group of women and for the best possible coaching staff from all over the country and I am so proud of how well we came together as a team and continued to battle right until the end of that last game.

We also had an amazing support staff keeping everyone healthy and making sure every thing ran smoothly throughout the whole training camp and tournament, all of the people involved made it easy to love every minute of the whole experience. (Except maybe not the post practice ice baths).”

With the IFAF Silver Medal proudly adorned around her neck (Image supplied by Funk)

Considering that the prevailing theme of the 2017 IFAF Women’s Worlds was one filled with historical connotations, it provided an extra element of emotion for Funk and her fellow Valkyries. With the gold medal game representing the swan song in Jeff Yausie’s unforgettable career as a female football head coach, there was a considerable element of emotion.

Having captured five WWCFL titles as the first head coach in Valkyries history, Yausie is a key fixture in franchise and league lore. As Funk called him a head coach for her first two seasons of donning the colors of the green and white, it brought her career full circle,

“I admire JY for the way he coaches because he teaches his players everything we need to know to be successful in football and and applies it to other aspects of life but he also cares about all of his players on a personal level too.

Whether he is working on improving parts of our own game or teaching us about of our opponents, he has no shortage of football knowledge and he puts in endless amounts of time both on and off the field to help us improve.

I am very fortunate to have played 3 seasons of Valkyries with him as a coach and I am especially honoured to have played for him on Team Canada.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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