Funk, Sullivan named AAA winners

By Army Athletic Communications

 Army West Point women’s rugby senior Sam Sullivan.       Graphic by Army Athletic Communications
  Army West Point men's basketball senior Tommy funk.                           Graphic by Army Athletic Communications

Prior to graduation each year, the Army Athletic Association (AAA) awards a male and female cadet-athlete who displayed the “most valuable service to intercollegiate athletics during a career as a cadet.” The AAA trophy is highly regarded as the United States Military Academy’s most prestigious athletic award. Being that the 2019-20 school year looked a bit different than years past, this year’s award winners were announced during the first-ever virtual Black Knight Awards.
After an outstanding record-breaking career with the Army West Point women’s rugby program, senior Sam Sullivan was chosen as the 2019-2020 female recipient of the AAA Award.
In the 116th year of the award, Sullivan was recognized alongside senior men’s basketball captain, Tommy Funk, who was the male honoree.
Sullivan becomes the first women’s rugby player in program history to receive the award after accumulating a laundry list of accomplishments. In her four-year career, Sullivan has been named a three-time National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) 15s All-American.
Her grit and relentlessness on the field of play also allowed her be recognized for a number of awards, including being named the 2019 College Rugby Championships Tournament MVP, the winner of the first-ever Prusmack Award, awarded to the top female and male collegiate 7s player in the country, and a top-20 finalist for the MA Sorensen Award, presented to the best 15s player in the country.
In addition to her leadership role on the team, Sullivan found her niche as a leader in the West Point community as well. She is a member of the Hawk Eye ID Program and became the first-ever West Point Brigade Trust Captain. In that role, she played a pivotal role in creating a committee of cadets to highlight sexual assault, sexual harassment and create a culture in which every cadet is empowered to protect their teammates.
Prior to arriving on the West Point campus, Sullivan had never played a day of rugby in her life. As a plebe, she walked on to the team and quickly found her place as a starter for the Black Knights.
In her career, she has amassed 118 tries, two conversions and 594 total points to make her the program’s all-time leader in points and tries in both the 15s and 7s category.
“Sam was recruited unseen, no evaluations and very limited conversations. Her AMS file was incredibly impressive in all the West Point Pillars,” head coach Bill Leclerc said. “My thought was why not reach out, it can’t hurt, hoping that she will find something in a sport that she had never played or heard of before would be interesting to say the least.
“In the end I feel it was the perfect intersection of need and want,” he added. “Rugby wanted her. Sam needed rugby. I have no doubt that Sam would not have been the person she is today, without rugby.”
Sullivan has been a part of Company G-4 and is one of only three females in the Computer Science major for the Class of 2020. She recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and graduated from the academy Saturday.
Funk becomes the ninth men’s basketball cadet all-time to receive the award and the first since Army Hall of Famer Kevin Houston (‘87) earned the honor in 1987.
“Tommy made an impact on the men’s basketball team and at the academy the day he stepped foot on campus,” head men’s basketball coach Jimmy Allen said. “He set an example of toughness, competitiveness and resiliency early on in his career. He was a guy who delivered in clutch moments and inspired his teammates to do so as well. At the nation’s premiere leadership institution, Tommy stands out as one of the all-time greats.”
Funk went down as one of the best point guards in program history after he displayed his passing, scoring and leadership abilities on the hardwood during his four seasons at West Point.
The four-year floor general did not miss a single game since putting on an Army jersey back as a freshman in 2016 and went on to start in all 124 career outings. For his career, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per tilt while shooting 42 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep.
A certified record breaker, Funk capped his illustrious four-year career by shattering the Patriot League’s and Army’s career assists marks. With 728 career helpers, he became the only player in league and program history to record over 700 career assists.
He additionally became just one of four players in league history to tally over 200 assists in a single season after he handed out a program-best 212 helpers during his senior campaign. The Warrington, Pennsylvania, native finished his career ranked first, second, third and fifth at Army in single-season assists.
Funk etched his name into several top-10 lists for the men’s basketball program at Army outside of assists as well. He finished eighth in career points (1,544), seventh in steals (102) and tied for 10th in 3-pointers made (167).
As one of just 18 cadets in program history to be named a two-time team captain, Funk improved his scoring, rebounding and assists averages each season en route to being recognized as a First Team All-Patriot League performer as a senior.
He previously was named to the all-rookie team as a freshman and to the all-league third team during his junior season.
In his final year on the banks of the Hudson River, Funk was a four-time Patriot League Player of the Week, making him the first cadet to achieve that milestone in a single season since Jarrell Brown (‘08).
Funk additionally was tabbed a U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, marking the first time a Patriot League player received the honor since the 2010-11 season.