Crunk returns to coach Freeburg where she began

News-DemocratJune 23, 2014 

When Lori Crunk resigned as head girls basketball coach at Althoff after the 2011 season, she had every intention of coaching again someday.

Three years later, someday has arrived.

Two decades after starting her coaching career as a freshman coach at Freeburg, Crunk has been named as the Midgets varsity coach for a second time.

Crunk takes over for Fred Blumberg, who resigned the position following the 2013-14 season.

"I didn't expect to come back this year. I really thought it was another year or two off. I wasn't looking. I was enjoying the summer with my kids. My daughter (Jordyne) is home this summer for the first time in four years after playing college basketball and I am enjoying the time with her,'' Crunk said. "But Freeburg needed a basketball coach and I was here.

Crunk teaches physical education and health at Freeburg High School.

"They (the administration) asked if I was interested and we talked a lot. And I said yes," Crunk said. "You go 50-50 about coming back. You see friends out and they tell you stories and you're glad you're not coaching. Then you sit back and recall all the good times as a coach. I've had a lot of good times as a coach. I really have. I love being around the girls and I love being back in the gym again.''

Lori Crunk won't be alone on the Midgets bench. Husband R.J. Crunk will once again be with her as the Midgets associate head coach.

The Midgets staff will also have a third Crunk on the sidelines this season. Daughter Jordyne Crunk has been hired to be the girls junior varsity coach.

Crunk graduated from Eastern Illinois University in May after a stellar four-year career with the Panthers.

The Crunks also have a son, Dalton, who is a sophomore at Southwestern Illinois College and a member of the Blue Storm men's basketball program.

Crunk began her coaching career at Freeburg in 1994 where she was the Midgets freshman coach. She coached the Midgets varsity squad from 1996-2001.

Crunk then was head coach at Althoff from 2004-2011. But with Jordyne seeing a lot of playing time from her freshman year on, the Crunks gave up the Crusaders job to watch their daughter play at the college level.

"Jordyne graduated in 2010, but we wanted to try it one more year and honor our commitment to Althoff because we enjoyed it so much and the people were great to us,'' Crunk said. "But we wanted to watch Jordyne play and they (Althoff) understood.

"But we're back at Freeburg now and we're excited about the future. We're looking forward to it.''

Always competitive in the rugged Cahokia Conference, the Midgets were hit hard by graduation. Crunk also admits that she hasn't seen many of the Midgets games in the last couple of years.

"Traveling and teaching, I haven't had a lot of time to watch Freeburg play. I saw one game last year,'' Crunk said. "I do know we've got a couple of seniors coming back who played last year and we've got some other players I've seen when we've had open gyms. We've got some good sophomores and juniors as well. I just don't know how much they played last year.''

"Plus we've got a real strong freshman class coming in with a lot of talent. They've also been coached well and that's important. But with me, the best players will play. It doesn't matter if you are a sophomore or senior, if you deserve to play, you will play.''

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