Gilbert W. Funk, affectionately known as “Gib”, was a native Coloradoan, a legendary coach and teacher whose impact on high school athletics was felt throughout the State of Colorado. He coached football, wrestling, baseball, and track at Colorado Springs High School (now Palmer High School) from 1946-59, and was the first football and baseball coach at the newly opened Wasson High School in 1959. During his coaching career, spanning nearly two decades, Coach Funk never had a losing season, never lost a dual or triangual track meet, and captured state championships in three of the four sports he coached.
In 1952, Coach Funk led Colorado Springs High School to a state championship in wrestling, followed by a state title in baseball in 1955. In 1956, he guided his football team to a state championship with an 11-1 record. Many consider this to be the finest football team ever to come from the city of Colorado Springs.
Coach Funk was intesely competitive. His influence on young athletes, and students in general, can best be described as pervasive, positive and good for a lifetime. As a teacher of mathematics, he was as demanding in the classroom as on the field of competition. He always put forth a message of dedication, organization, strategy, attention to details, and a caring for those in his sphere of influence. Coach Funk always tried to instill his philosophy in young athletes and other students, for he sincerely believed it would lead to positive end results. This can be attested to by the fact that Coach Funk was instrumental in the careers of other successful coaches, such as Tom Falgien, Bill Gordon, Jim Hartman, Ron Nightswonger, Dick and Bill Westbay, George Kalber and other notable individuals, including former State Senator Tilman Bishop, Wasson High School Program Coordinator Kent Hill and Assistant Superintendent of School District 11, Dr. Arvel Ricketts.
Funk earned his B. A. degree in 1941 from Colorado State College of Education (now the University of Northern Colorado) and his M. A. degree in 1953 from Colorado A & M (now Colorado State University). Following one year of teaching and coaching at Arvada High School in 1941, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served as an Ensign during the U.S. Armed Forces invasion of southern France and Anzio beachhead. He was Honorably Discharged in 1945.
From 1974-82, Funk served as the second Athletic Director of Colorado Springs District 11. He was on the Board of Directors of the Colorado High School Activities Association, serving as its president during 1981-82. He was honored in 1958 by the Colorado State College Alumni Association and CSC coaches for “outstanding contributions to athletics”, was inducted into the Colorado High School Hall of Fame in 1991 and, in 1992, was inducted posthumously into the first class of the Colorado Springs Hall of Fame.
Gib Funk passed away in 1992 at the age of 74. It would be difficult, if not impossible to measure the influence and positive impact Funk had on the lives of the thousands of students, parents, faculty, staff administrators and citizens with whom he came in contact during his life and tenure as a coach, teacher and administrator. Gib remains in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him.
Coach Funk never had a losing season, never lost a dual or triangual track meet, and captured state championships in three of the four sports he coached.