SEQUIM — Alternately described by his coach as quirky and by his teammates as a key component in the team’s success, Sequim junior midfielder Adrian Funston has shown an increasing level of toughness for the Wolves’ state-bound boys soccer team.
Before the state tournament begins next week, Funston and Sequim will face Fife for the Class 2A West Central District Championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma.
“Quirky, OK,” Funston contemplated when told of what Sequim head coach Dave Brasher said about him.
“I’m a little different than most of the players, a little more straightfoward in my thinking. A little more solution oriented. Other players may be more creative and I’m a little more about getting the job done.”
Funston’s done plenty for the Wolves this season, scoring five goals, tied for third on the team, and dishing eight assists, tied for second on the Sequim roster.
Brasher said Funston has a lot of avenues to explore away from the soccer field.
“He’s a unique guy,” Brasher said. “He has a lot of talents outside of soccer; he’s in the choir, that kind of thing. The kids kind of give him a bad time about all that kind of stuff but Adrian has skills that are undeniable.
“The kids can make fun of him for being in the choir or being a quirky guy, but this year he’s been hard nosed on the field. He’s always had real good technical skills but he was kind of ticky-tack. He would get the ball and do all these fancy moves and get rid of it and then wait for it to come back. He wouldn’t work to seek it out. But not this year.
“He’s become more hard-nosed, gritty, and won more headers than anybody on the team.”
Funston said he agrees with his coach’s assessment and he specificially aimed at fixing those shortcomings heading into this season.
“Yeah, definitely,” Funston said. “Coming into the year I really focused on defense and pursuing the center of the field. My freshman and sophomore years I was more of a winger, more skills[oriented], more light on my feet. And this year I’ve really focused on my physicality, my defense, my one-on-one battles.”
As he’s grown into a tougher player, Brasher said Funston also has developed a thicker skin.
“He’s gotten better at [dishing as well as taking jokes],” Brasher said. “This year especially he’s gotten better. He was a little overwhelmed as a freshman or sophomore, he didn’t know where that was coming from. But he’s getting to the point where he realizes they are kids, he’s a kid and its all in good fun.”
Funston said it’s all about respect and he respects all of his teammates.
“If I respect the player it doesn’t matter to me, then I know they are coming from a joking aspect,” he said. “If I don’t respect them then I take it personally, but I respect every player out here and I know we all want it [success] really bad. I’ve known most of these guys most of my life. I know when they are joking and when they are serious.”
Senior defender Brandon Benson said the team is better with an improved Funston.
“Adrian is one of our key components in the midfield,” Benson said.” It seems like we are hard on each other but it’s the intensity of the game. He’s definitely a key player, he knows he’s part of the team and it’s all love. We joke with everybody.”
As he’s grown more assertive on the field, Funston is intrigued by how people behave and may pursue psychology when he attends college.
“Psychology is kind of an interesting field for me, studying the brain and human behavior,” Funston said. “I like to understand how people work. I think that’s really important not just for your job but for life. I’ve looked into doing sports psychology and talked to a guy here at PC, [former Sequim athlete and current Pirates men’s basketball assistant coach] Nick Camporini, who is a sports psychologist and he told me some things about the job.”
And Funston knows all of his teammates have the same mentality heading back to the state tournament.
“We all want the same thing — to win state really bad,” Funston said.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]