The Wright Call

By Dave Wright

Last week, Matt Funk did something that he hadn’t had much of a chance to do this summer—head to a lake cabin with his family for a few days. That’s what happens when you leave a corporate job you’ve had for more than two decades and take up the task of overseeing a 27-sport athletic program.

On May 31, Funk left the Minneapolis-based world of Target behind and took over as athletic director at Cretin-Derham Hall, succeeding Phil Archer. Funk was already familiar with the school, having been its head boys’ hockey coach for the past four years—a job he’ll retain this winter. Prior to that, he coached hockey at Saint Thomas Academy and Saint Paul Academy. He led the Spartans to their first-ever state tournament berth in 2016.

The smallest school in its conference, CDH has been a consistent winner on the ice under Funk’s guidance. Last season, the Raiders went 24-5. They outscored their post-season opponents by a combined 14-3 margin to win the Section 3AA championship and return to the state tournament for the first time since 2009.

That’s all well and good, but stepping into the role of athletic director in charge of all of a school’s sports is a bigger challenge. “It’s all about communication,” Funk said. “In that regard, it’s no different than what I dealt with in the business world.”

When the school year starts, Funk will have help on the administrative side with assistants Bob Kinne and Tony Yazbeck, and on the facility side with former baseball and hockey coach Jim O’Neill.

This summer, Funk has been spending his time getting to know his head coaches and their athletes while adjusting to the mountain of paperwork that athletic directors deal with. “We have 27 teams,” he said, “and 91 percent of our students are involved in some form of athletic activity.”

Athletic activity picks up in earnest at CDH when practices begin on August 15 for football, soccer, cross-country running, volleyball, and girls’ tennis and swimming. While Funk will concern himself with all the squads, he knows very well that this year’s football team is likely to draw the most public attention with new head coach Steve Walsh.

“His name is a big deal around here,” Funk said about new head football coach Steve Walsh. “He’s very detailed. What impresses a lot of people is that he knows everybody’s name around here already.”

Walsh was a stellar quarterback for CDH football teams nearly 40 years ago. He went on to a terrific college football career at the University of Miami and played for a decade in the National Football League. He later became a successful high school football coach in Florida before returning to the pro ranks as an assistant coach in the Canadian Football League. Last December, he decided to come home and guide the Raiders’ football fortunes.

“His name is a big deal around here,” Funk said. “He’s very detailed. What impresses a lot of people is that he knows everybody’s name around here already.”

That’s a good start, but it doesn’t sit well with a lot of alumni that the Raiders have won a total of just eight football games in the past three seasons. Granted, there are a variety of reasons for that. COVID-19 threw all teams off their game in 2020, and before that, the Raiders were easily the smallest school playing in the Metro East Conference. Last year, they were realigned into the Suburban Maroon Conference where they collided with longtime rivals Saint Thomas Academy and Hastings. The Raiders came out on the short end of both of those encounters.

A return to past Prep Bowl glory isn’t necessarily expected right out of the chute, but Funk knows where the attention will be focused. In fact, he’d only been on the job a few days when CDH and STA collided in a sectional lacrosse game last June. “Every game we play against Saint Thomas is intense,” he said.

Although his coaching background has been in boys’ sports, Funk is no stranger to girls’ athletics. “When I was a student at Notre Dame, it was a time when football was struggling a bit but the women’s teams were winning a lot,” he recalled. “There’s a tremendous opportunity here. We can be very good in girls’ sports.”

Funk and Walsh are not the only new kids on the block this year for CDH. Erin Horn, who played volleyball for the Gophers, takes over the reins of that program for the Raiders. Carolyn Osdoba will be running the softball team in the spring with the help of Dennis Czech, a 1999 CDH grad. Funk will also take special interest in CDH girls’ swimming, since his eighth-grade daughter, Bridget, will be on the team.

It’s been said that a good athletic director’s mind is never far from his or her school. In Funk’s case, it’s geographically accurate as well. That can be a good and bad thing. “I live a mile away,” he said. “That means I can go home, have dinner and get back to school easily.”

Then there’s the matter of getting his hockey team ready for next season. As the defending section champs, Funk knows full well his team will bring out every opponent’s best efforts this winter. In addition to the usual rugged conference slate, CDH will face STA on November 25 in Bloomington with a rematch the following month at the Charles M. Schulz-Highland Arena. The Raiders also have games scheduled against perennial puck powers Hermantown and Eden Prairie. 

Dave Wright can be reached at


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