Dr. Richard Hunkler Set for Induction into Slippery Rock University Hall of Fame

Dr. Richard Hunkler
Dr. Richard Hunkler

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Dr. Richard F. “Doc” Hunkler, who guided Slippery Rock University women’s water polo teams to one national championship and 10 top-three national finishes during an illustrious coaching career, will be included in a group of individuals who will comprise the SRU Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011.

Induction ceremonies will be held September 24 as part of The Rock’s home football game weekend versus archrival Indiana U. of Pa.

Sue Bow Kolczak (SRU Class of 1977, '82-M), who earned four All-America honors as a member of Hunkler-coached Rock women’s water polo teams, will join Hunkler as a member of the Hall’s Class of 2011.

Both Hunkler (2002) and Kolczak (2005) are also members of the Collegiate Water Polo Association Hall of Fame.

Joining Hunkler and Kolczak as members of the SRU hall’s 2011 induction class will be former Rock All-America wrestler and coach Derek DelPorto (SRU Class of 1999), former men’s swimming All-America performer Scott Hendry (SRU Class of 1997, 2000-M), former men’s basketball standouts Owen Long (SRU Class of 1975) and Bill Rausch (SRU Class of 1983) and Carol Sprague (SRU Class of 1971, ’74-M), a former Rock woman student athlete and longtime collegiate athletic administrator.

Tickets for the 2011 SRU Athletic Hall of Fame are $35 each. Contact Pearl Shaffer, assistant to the athletic director, at pearl.shaffer@sru.edu or 724.738.2768 for more information.

Hunkler’s accomplishments as a Rock coach are truly overwhelming.

He initiated The Rock water polo program in 1972 as a club sport, led it into varsity status in 1991 and ultimately coached the women’s teams for 27 seasons and men’s teams for 24 seasons in addition to serving seven seasons as women’s swimming coach.

On the varsity level alone, Hunkler compiled 316-82 record in 23 seasons: 162-20 in eight women’s water polo seasons, 116-53 in eight men’s water polo seasons and 38-19 in seven women’s swimming seasons.

For his efforts as a water polo pioneer, Hunkler was one of two men who in 2002 comprised the inaugural class of inductees into the CWPA Hall of Fame. Two years earlier, he earned the ultimate honor in the sport of water polo: Induction into the U.S. Water Polo Association Hall of Fame.

Further testimony to the impact he had upon the sport is the fact that seven former Rock women’s water polo student athletes have joined him as members of the CWPA Hall of Fame.

Even more evidence of the respect with which Hunkler is viewed by water polo coaches and administrators is the fact USA Water Polo established the Doc Hunkler Distinguished Women’s Coaching Award in 2010. The award is presented annually to the top scholastic coach in the nation. The CWPA also honored Hunkler by putting his name on its Women's Eastern Championship "Coach of the Year" award.

Hunkler earned national “Coach of the Year” honors three consecutive seasons after leading The Rock to Collegiate National Championships runner-up finishes in 1993 and 1994 and the national championship in 1995.

The national title, which was claimed in only the fourth year of varsity competition by the Green and White, is one of only two ever won by a Rock varsity sports team and the only women’s water polo national title ever captured by an Eastern team.

All told, Hunkler led The Rock women to six third-place and three national runner-up finishes in addition to the 1995 national championship. More than a dozen of his former student athletes went on earn spots on the U.S. National Team, the sport's equivalent to an NBA or NFL team.

Hunkler-coached Rock men’s water polo teams never had a losing season and claimed two top-eight national finishes in NCAA Division I competition, two Eastern regional titles and two regional runner-up finishes. The top-eight national finishes are two of only three ever achieved by a DIvision II men's team.

Hunkler also held posts on the national level. He was an assistant for the 1982-83 national women's team which finished second at the World Cup Championships. As a coach at the U.S. Olympic Festival, he became the only person to ever direct both a men's and women's squad to a water polo gold medal.

Hunkler also served as a member of the U.S. Water Polo Women’s International Committee and was instrumental in the administration of the Mid Atlantic Conference, now known as the CWPA, in its early years. He served six years as the organization’s president and several more as its secretary.

Hunkler-coached Rock women’s swimming teams claimed three top-25 finishes in AIAW Division II national-championship events, earned two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference runner-up honors and never finished lower than fourth place in PSAC championship meets.

An eye-popping total of 101 Rock women's swimmers earned All-America honors under Hunkler's tutelage.

Hunkler’s prowess wasn’t limited to coaching; he also won 10 U.S. Master’s national titles as a competitive swimmer

A retired SRU computer science and elementary education professor, Hunkler received his bachelor’s (1957), master’s (1960) and Ph. D (1968) degrees from Texas A&M University. He was inducted into the Texas A&M Hall of Fame in 1981.

Born in Houston, Texas, and a graduate of Reagan High School, Hunkler and his wife, Billie, are the proud parents of three sons.

Release courtesy Slippery Rock Athletic Communications

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