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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The costs of funding a varsity or collegiate club program in the sport of water polo are difficult for any institution.

The alumni of the Slippery Rock University men’s and women’s water polo teams seek to help programs via a grant presented in honor of their longtime coach, the Richard F. “Doc” Hunkler Grant Program.

The mission of the program is to further enhance Dr. Hunkler’s coaching legacy by supporting those who compete in the sport he devoted his life to and truly cherished.  It was established to enrich and enhance the lives of the water polo student-athlete experience.  This grant is designed to provide financial assistance to members of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) varsity and/or club leagues.

Many water polo teams, especially club teams, are traditionally underfunded and rely on the support of alumni, friends, fundraisers and outside organizations to help offset the cost of competition – including travel, hotels, meals and tournament fees.

The purpose of this grant program is to help alleviate some of these burdens and allow teams/clubs/student-athletes to excel in the competition arena.  Through the allocation of funds from the Richard F. “Doc” Hunkler Grant Program, coaches and teams/clubs will have the opportunity that may not have previously been available to them.

Grant Information

  • Eligibility:  Schools must be active members of the CWPA Water Polo Association. They can be an under-funded varsity or club program. Interested schools are encouraged to seek the guidance of their athletic department or if a club, their student-government. A school (“recipient”) can only receive one “Richard F. “DOC” Hunkler Water Polo Grant Program” award each calendar year.
  • Administration & Budget:  Administrative duties are provided by the CWPA, in collaboration with the grant selection committee which reviews proposals and the selection of recipients; annual reporting; evaluation of whether the grant is fulfilling its mission and purpose; approval of any modifications to the grant’s guidelines.
    This initiative is funded by donations directly in the name of Richard F. “Doc” Hunkler Grant Program to the CWPA which is a 501 c 3. Funding opportunities will be in relation to the funds raised each year.
  • Funding Overview:  Selected schools (“Recipients”) receive one year of grant funding from the “DOC” Hunkler Grant Program for support. Grants will range from $500 to $5,000 per academic year.
      • Funding will be limited to the following:
        • Travel costs
        • Tournament fees
        • Equipment needs
        • Food
        • Uniforms
        • Assistant Coach(es)
  • Timeline:  The following guidelines will provide teams with a clear understanding of the requirements for grant application and the timeline by the board of directors. With competitions for men’s and women’s teams occurring at different times of the year, the grant will provide two opportunities to receive funding at the following times:
      • Grant applications received by January 1
        • Teams notified of application receipt by deadline.
        • Board review of application
        • Notification of acceptance for proposal
        • Congratulations on the monetary award communication.
        • Monies dispersed by January 31
      • Grant applications received by August 1
        • Teams notified of application receipt by deadline.
        • Board review of application
        • Notification of acceptance for proposal
        • Congratulations on the monetary award communication.
        • Monies dispersed by August 31
      • Call for Proposals
        • All proposal materials must be successfully submitted prior to the deadline via email to and must include the following – but not limited to:
          • Brief description of the proposal
          • Team, Club and gender
          • Purpose and key anticipated outcomes
          • Individuals or team being served
          • Amount of funding requested
          • Overview of how funds will be spent
          • Timeline
          • Primary grant contact information
          • A detailed budget for the season and how this grant works with your budget
          • An explanation of why you are pursuing this grant and how it will benefit your team
          • A description of how the grant’s success will be evaluated
          • Please provide your team/club mission or vision statement
  • Selection Committee: The selection committee is responsible for the review of proposals and selection of Grant Recipients. Committee members include four (4) alumni from Slippery Rock University who played water polo for Dr. Hunkler and three members of the immediate Hunkler family. The four alumni spots are awarded based on a rotation schedule and opened for other SRU alumni wanting to serve.
      • The selection committee has the right to recommend action including the withholding of funds and obtaining full reimbursement of sums paid to the grant recipient. Actions resulting in an audit review may occur for such irregularities as unauthorized expenses, late or incomplete reports/evaluations, inaccurate submissions, or other grant reporting problems.
      • 2023-24 Selection Comittee:
        • W. Pearce Miller, Ed.D. (chair), Slippery Rock University ‘78
        • Lynn Comer Kachmarik, Slippery Rock University ‘79 & ‘80/CWPA Hall of Fame
        • Peter Thompson, Slippery Rock University ‘98
        • Dawn Wilson, Slippery Rock University ‘91
        • Billie Hunkler (wife)
        • Sean Hunkler (son),
        • Wes Hunkler (son), Slippery Rock University ‘87
  • Award Agreement:  A standardized award agreement will be issued to the recipients and will reference these guidelines. For operational efficiency, award agreements should not be altered.
      • The award agreement will specify the start and end dates of the grant, monetary allocations for each budget period, ramifications for improper use of funds, and any other applicable regulations and conditions of the award.
      • An award is accepted when the standard agreement is executed by the Recipient and the CWPA.
  • Recipient Responsibilities: The following responsibilities are required by recipients:
      • This grant requires proof of how grant was used by recipients.
      • The recipient is responsible for three communications back to the CWPA and grant committee.
        1) Communicate once the grant is received,
        2) Communication midway through season with photos
        3) Final report at conclusion of season to confirm use of grant.
      • Recipients are required to provide a Federal Tax Identification Number and are encouraged to establish direct deposit with the CWPA.
      • Recipients have full responsibility for the conduct of the projects or activities supported by the grant and for the results achieved.
      • Recipients are required to monitor performance to assure adherence to goals, time schedules, or other requirements as appropriate to the project or terms of the award.
      • All modifications to the responsibilities outlined in the proposal must be approved, in writing, by the program administrator prior to execution.
  • Questions/Requests for Additional Information:  Contact CWPA Commissioner Dan Sharadin at 610-277-6787 or

Richard HunklerAbout Richard F. “Doc” Hunkler

The men’s and women’s water polo coach at Slippery Rock University from 1971-to-1998, “Doc” was a professor, academic advisor and coach who was years ahead of his time as it related to coaching women.  He treated his men’s varsity/National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team equally in all ways to his women’s club team – both started at the same time.  Men’s varsity water polo began at Slippery Rock in 1971 and the women’s club water polo team went from playing intrasquad games to competing at the USA Indoor Water Polo Championship beginning in 1976.

A professor at Slippery Rock from 1968-to–1998, he began his career in the Elementary Education Department where he authored a set of standardized statistical programs called the “Electronic Statistical Cookbook.” He rewrote his cookbook so it connected to the computer mainframe at SRU – creating a revenue source for the water polo team – in addition to allowing him to create and lead the college’s Computer Science Department.

Throughout his coaching career, Slippery Rock competed at the highest levels in both men’s and women’s water polo.  The teams claimed numerous Eastern Conference Championships, and culminating by being the only male varsity team at Slippery Rock to reach an NCAA Championship Tournament at that time.  In 1995 his women’s team was the first team outside of California to win the USA Indoor National Championship despite a club level designation. The Slippery Rock Women’s Club Team was also the first “true” collegiate women’s water polo team in the country. Doc Hunkler’s vision was to promote the sport of water polo at all levels by developing lifelong support through sportsmanship, camaraderie, friendship, and competition.

During 20 of his 27 years of coaching, Hunkler received no release time from teaching nor did he receive any payment for his coaching duties. In 1976, one of his players, a college sophomore, Lynn Comer Kachmarik played on the USA Women’s National Water Polo Team. DOC felt that with her experience he needed her on the pool deck, so he appointed her the assistant coach for the men’s varsity water polo team. This was a first for any woman in the country – coaching a men’s varsity NCAA program – and started Kachmarik onto a career that included service as the head men’s water polo coach at Bucknell University.

Highlights of his coaching career include:

  • Assistant coach 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.
  • First and only women’s team to win a National Championship outside of California in 1995
  • Earned status as the National “Coach of the Year” three consecutive seasons after leading The Rock to Women’s Collegiate National Championships runner-up finishes in 1993 and 1994 and the national championship in 1995.
  • Men’s varsity team won Eastern Men’s Collegiate Championship twice, coached several NCAA All-America selections and led them to the NCAA National Championship Tournament
  • He coached the Slippery Rock women’s swimming and diving team for seven years. He coached 101 All-America honorees with an equivalent number of league champions.
  • He was instrumental in getting women’s water polo added to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) as an emerging sport in 2000. Since then, women’s water polo has grown in popularity and participation at the collegiate level.
  • Coached over 20 All-America selections with many Slippery Rock women playing on the United States National Team.
  • The CWPA Division I Eastern Championship “Coach of the Tournament” award is named for Hunkler
  • The USA Water Polo Outstanding Female Coach of the Year award is named for Hunkler.
  • Hunkler is a member of the Texas A&M University Athletic Hall of Fame, Slippery Rock Athletic Hall of Fame, CWPA Hall of Fame, USA Water Polo Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Aquatics Hall of Fame.
  • Hunkler founded and managed Water Polo Planet – a website which remains among the most often visited sites for the sport of water polo. This site allows coaches to share their coaching knowledge, advertise for open coaching positions and seek out opinions on its message boards for questions in the sport.
Collegiate Water Polo Association