Richard HunklerDick Hunkler, affectionately known to everyone as Doc, initiated water polo in 1972 at Slippery Rock University as a club sport. In 1991, the program achieved varsity status and went on to win the Eastern Championship and finish seventh at the NCAA Championships, with a record of 26-7. Slippery Rock also finished as Eastern Championships runner-up twice.

Hunkler had success with a nationally ranked men’s team, but what he did for women’s water polo is probably his greatest achievement. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1993, 1994, after two runner-up performances at the Collegiate National Championships. In 1995, the SRU women captured the national championship, making them the first and only eastern team to earn such an honor, to earn Hunkler his third Coach of the Year award. Under his leadership, the Slippery Rock women also posted three national third-place finishes from 1990 to 1992 as he led the program to six third place, three second place and one championship performance at the National Women’s Collegiate Championship during his tenure.

Doc ended his career with a 102-42 record with the men’s team over seven varsity seasons and an incredible 142-11 record with the women’s team over six varsity seasons.

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 in water polo to the gold medal. Again, those teams were the first from the east to capture the gold.

He was also instrumental in the administration of the Mid Atlantic Conference, now known as the Collegiate Water Polo Association, in its early years. In the 1970’s, Hunkler served six years as President and several more as Secretary. He was also the individual in charge of coordinating the women’s competition from its inception, before the programs had a regular schedule within the league structure. His tireless work in developing women’s water polo paved the way for the tremendous growth experienced today.

Hunkler passed away on April 9, 2019.

Collegiate Water Polo Association