Emily Brunk was one of the driving defensive forces behind The College of Wooster women’s lacrosse program’s rapid rise in the mid-1990s. When Brunk stepped foot on campus, Wooster was coming off of a two-win season, but the Fighting Scots quickly jumped back on track with an 8-4 mark during Brunk’s freshman year, and the program continued to rise from there.
As a sophomore, Brunk was part of the first 10-win season in program history, and Wooster advanced to the championship game of the inaugural North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, won by Denison University 17-7. Wooster’s rapid improvements on the field didn’t go unnoticed as Brunk earned the first of two all-region certificates.
Two years later, Brunk set a bunch of firsts in the program books as the Alexandria, Va., native capped her career with first-team All-America honors from the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association and the United States Women’s Lacrosse Association. In fact, to this day, Brunk stands as the lone defender in program history to be selected as an All-American. The accolades didn’t stop there with Brunk taking home the defensive player of the year honor in the NCAC, making her the first in program history to do so, and she earned a spot on the all-conference team for the fourth consecutive year. As an All-American, Brunk capped her career at the All-American game played at Johns Hopkins University.
Brunk was part of a defense that allowed 10.5 goals per game during her career. Notable, she played in an era when groundballs and caused turnovers – the two primary statistics for defenders – weren’t regularly tracked as official NCAA statistics. Offensively, Brunk tallied 42 goals, including a career-high 15 as a sophomore.
“Emily’s ability to read a play and anticipate where she should be defensively came very naturally to her and made her a tough competitor for anyone to get by,” summed up 2007 W Association Hall of Fame inductee Tamra Barnes Kinzer, who coached the lacrosse team during Brunk’s senior year. “She played with great control, focus, intelligence, and awareness, and made very movement count. Her timing on checks was impressive and she had incredible determination and drive to get to the ball first. She was a great communication and helped our defensive come together as a unit.”
Family ties drew Brunk to the College as she noted, “My aunt, uncle, and cousin attended Wooster, so I was very interested in the College because of my family connection. I was looking at a number of liberal arts colleges in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, but I had the best experience with the Wooster coaches and players, and I fell in love with the campus on my visit.”
Outside of lacrosse, Brunk played soccer for two years, appearing in 10 games and scoring a goal. She was a member of Zeta Phi Gamma.
After graduating from Wooster with a bachelor’s in English and a teaching certification, Brunk moved to Bethesda, Md., and was the athletic director, teacher, and coach at Norwood School. Then, Brunk worked to expose underserved youth in Washington, D.C. to lacrosse as the first executive director for the Washing Inner City Foundation. Later, Brunk’s passion for teaching returned and she further honed her English degree roots with a master’s of education in reading from the University of Virginia.
Today, Brunk, who resides back in her hometown, is happily married to Matt Jones, and the couple has two children – Henry (13) and Lucy (10). The stay-at-home mom enjoys traveling with her family, watching and attending Washington Nationals games, and cheering on her children in their sport endeavors.