(Left) Alton senior Skylar Funk (left) and his brother, Nick, get ready for the Redbirds’ soccer match against Granite City on Sept. 13. Nick is in his first year as Alton head coach. (Photo by Theo Tate) (Right) Jake Peal (left) is in his first year as Civic Memorial head cross country coach. One of his runners is his younger sister, Lydia.
Skylar Funk and Lydia Peal don’t go to the same school.
They don’t compete in the same sport.
They don’t live in the same town.
But there’s one thing they have in common — their older brothers are their coaches.
Skylar Funk is coached by his brother, Nick, on the Alton boys’ soccer team. Lydia Peal is coached by her brother, Jake, on the Civic Memorial cross country team.
Skylar, a senior, said he’s thrilled to have his older brother as his coach after a month of the season.
“It’s very fun and exciting,” Skylar said. “It’s a little weird, but I like it.”
Lydia, also a senior, is happy to have her older brother coaching in her final year with the CM cross country team.
“It’s good because he knows me probably better than anyone,” she said. “He knows my work ethic and we kind of work really well together. We’re super close. It’s awesome to have him there.”
Both Nick Funk and Jake Peal are in their first year as head coaches this fall.
Funk was hired to take over the Alton boys’ soccer program in July, replacing Jay Robertson. Peal was named the Eagles’ cross country coach after his predecessor, Mark Beatty, accepted an athletics director job at Carrollton.
Funk was Alton’s assistant coach for three years before being promoted over the summer.
“I was really happy for him,” Skylar Funk said. “I knew he was going to do something with this team and this school and I liked it a lot.”
Skylar is one of 20 seniors on the Alton squad. He said he can’t believe his high school soccer career is coming to an end. The Redbirds entered the week 7-2 overall and 2-1 in the Southwestern Conference. They were playing in the 62nd annual CYC/Bob Guelker Soccer Tournament this week.
“I’m going to miss it a lot,” the Alton senior said. “I don’t want that day to come, but it’s going to come and I’ve got to get through it.”
So far, Skylar Funk is turning a strong senior season for the Redbirds. Going into this week, he’s one of the team’s top scorers with two goals and four assists. Last year, he finished with three goals and 10 assists and earned all-Southwestern Conference honors.
“Skylar is a good player and he earns his spot every day,” the 28-year-old Nick Funk said. “I try not to treat him differently than the other players. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Skylar’s play speaks for itself. It’s easy to coach him. He’s a good kid and he learns and he listens well.”
Skylar, who joined the boys’ soccer program during his freshman year, is also helping Alton get off to a good start.
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