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Team Cohesion swimmer has Buckeye blood in her veins and heart

June 16, 2023

COLUMBUS, OH - Many Ohio State student-athletes and alums describe Buckeye Nation as a family but to one member of the Swim & Dive team, her connection to OSU athletics is actually by blood.

Nyah Funderburke, grew up in Columbus, Ohio. She attended dozens of Buckeye sporting events, including many basketball games at the Schottenstein Center. All of these games, being recognized as the daughter of Lawrence Funderburke – OSU basketball power forward from 1991-1994.

“It used to be, ‘she is Lawrence Funderburke’s daughter’, but now it is that I am her dad,” said Lawrence Funderburke, former NBA player.

Nyah remembers sitting right by the court at many OSU basketball games growing up. All of them were memorable because she was spending time with her dad. From taking pictures with Brutus to cheering on Aaron Craft, she’s always been a Buckeye fan.

Athletics were a big part of her childhood. She bounced around playing a few different sports until she was 12, when she decided to give swimming a try. It wasn’t a magical connection at first, but something she grew to love.

Nyah Funderburke jumping into the pool.

Today, Nyah is a member of Ohio State’s Swim & Dive team and she has accomplished some great feats from winning her own Big Ten title in the 100 Backstroke this past season, to being part of her team’s fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship.

“The Big Ten championship was my number one and most surprising accomplishment, because I really had a breakthrough,” explained Nyah. “Ever since halfway through my freshman year, I was going through the transition into college and independence, being on my own. Breaking through that comfort zone was a big thing. Coming back to win an individual title but also a team title of Ohio State’s fourth consecutive Big Ten championship.”

Her favorite part about being on the Swim & Dive team at Ohio State is the team connection and the great culture with her teammates and coaches.

“Ohio State’s culture proves to be true time and time again through many different segments of sports, but I would say with swimming and diving it is very particular, so supportive, demonstrative of each other, and safe to say everyone has each other’s back,” said Nyah.

Even though the training schedule is rigorous, Nyah says it pays off at the end of the year when she touches the wall and hits her best times. 

Nyah was a part of All-American relays this year, which she explained was amazing being able to compete against the best of the best. She says that in swimming there is a personal development aspect that molds you into that student-athlete you are through the training and experiences whether it’s adverse or positive.

Nyah with her dad, Lawrence Funderburke.

Both her mom and dad are alumni of The Ohio State University and with her dad being a former Buckeye student-athlete himself, he knew how to help when recruiting season rolled around for Nyah.

COVID-19 protocols made in-person official visits difficult to set up. But with Ohio State in her backyard and having such an impact on her childhood, she felt comfortable.

“Anytime you have a child who is an athlete that follows in your footsteps, who has visibility and success in the sport, it strengthens your connection,” Lawrence Funderburke explained about his help in Nyah’s collegiate decision. “There is pressure because people hear the name, even though she is not on the basketball court, they still look for her to have success. Sometimes pressure is more internal than it is external, how you handle that will determine what success you have not only in your respective field or sport but what you do outside of that when it comes to your life and legacy pursuit.”

As her Dad, Lawrence was able to explain the benefits of being part of Buckeye Nation from athletics to learning at the historic, rigorous university.

Nyah became a Cohesion Foundation student-athlete at the start of Fall Semester 2022, spending time interacting at the Fan Fest event and attending a fundraiser for the Lindy Infante Foundation.

“There is a lot you can see upfront with Cohesion Foundation and the events and the student-athletes that represent Cohesion Foundation, but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that pays off giving back to the community,” Nyah said about the importance of NIL opportunities for all student-athletes.

“When it comes to NIL, what value proposition do you have to be able to benefit those who are going to support you, particularly in a financial arrangement. What you do differently that no one else can do, that is your value proposition, Nyah understands the responsibility that comes with being a star athlete,” explained Lawrence.

Nyah finds it extra special to be able to come home and talk to her dad about new experiences and new interactions that she has had with people telling her how amazing it is that the Funderburke name is continuing within Ohio State.

A quote from her dad that she has always taken to heart is ‘A father creates a life; a dad builds a legacy.’

“Focus on two things – you have your life, and you have your legacy. Your life is trapped in a moment of time, but your legacy stands the test of time. I have always focused on her that once you’re done with those four years, what legacy will you leave behind,” Lawrence explained what he has tried to instill in Nyah.

She feels like that is a big part of her relationship with her father. A huge distinction she has taken in relationship with her father and the connection they have is that protection is another form of unconditional love.

“I want to highlight the importance of what dads bring to the table. I used the words father and dad interchangeable throughout the interview, but I want to note they have differences,” said Nyah. “A father is a biological title that stands on its own. Everyone has a father, but what separates a dad from a father is that connective and trusting relationship that holds much more weight to it.”

Nyah says her dad’s words and protectiveness have shaped her into the young woman she is today.

“Looking back, I remember him talking about his experiences in college, not really thinking that it could be me someday and now here I am continuing the Funderburke legacy,” said Nyah.