Eight Years of Excellence: Bulmahn stepping down as MV volleyball coach

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Eric Bulmahn and daughter Ceci Bulmahn, were the Daily Reporter’s coach and player of the year this season. Coach Bulmahn recently resigned after eight seasons as Mt. Vernon’s head coach.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

FORTVILLE — Leave it better than you found it.

Eric Bulmahn did just that.

Now, the successful Mt. Vernon volleyball coach leaves the program with big shoes to fill.

Taking over after a 9-20 season in 2013, Bulmahn went 195-60 over the next eight years, including seven 20-win seasons, a pair of sectional championships, and a regular spot among the state’s top-20 ranked teams.

“It was a blessing to me that every year the girls came in wanting to work hard, wanting to learn, wanting to do it the way I wanted to do it in my system,” Bulmahn said. “Since they bought in every single year, I was able to bring new players in and put them in the spots (opened from graduation). It kept the longevity of the program.

“They all had a love for volleyball and played in the off-season. They were good academically and developed a strong volleyball IQ. The legacy from our seniors, they embraced our underclassmen and helped them come along.”

Bulmahn, who does not teach at the school, recently announced he’d be stepping down from the high school coaching position to concentrate on running his business, Paws Stop, a specialty pet food, feed and supplies store on the east side of Indianapolis.

There are just not enough hours in the day, or hours that line up with high school volleyball practices and games, for him to juggle both positions.

“It was going to be tough with Paws Stop being opened until 7:30 at night,” he said. “There were going to be times I was going to have to miss matches and practices. I went to the administration to see if there could be an associate head coach with equal pay and split duties and it was something that was not possible.

“The time I put in to make sure the program is run right and to do it the right way, it takes about 30 hours per week. I couldn’t devote that kind of time and I didn’t want to do a disservice to the program by not being able to be there full-time”

Bulmahn started his business in July of 2021.

After running a summer program for the school system, Bulmahn was hired by then-athletic director Greg Roach prior to the 2014 season to take over the high school team.

Predominately made up of sophomores, Bulmahn’s first group of Marauders went 24-9. They followed up with back-to-back sectional crowns in 2015 and 2016. Those teams had win-loss records of 29-5 and 27-8, respectively.

The 2017 club was the only one under 20 wins, but an 18-12 season, considering the schedule Mt. Vernon plays, is far from a bad season.

Over the years about the only thing that stopped the Marauders dominance was geographic location and having to face some of the state’s top teams early in the postseason.

Two recent sectional championship game losses came to teams that went on to win state titles. In 2020, the Marauders went 22-5, and were eliminated in the sectional final by eventual 28-0 state champ Yorktown.

In 2019, Mt. Vernon went 27-5, but was ousted by 35-1 New Castle, who went on to raise the state title trophy a few weeks later.

Four times in eight years, the team that knocked Mt. Vernon out of the postseason, won the state title. After the Marauders won sectional titles in 2015 and 2016, they lost to Cathedral in the regional. The Irish teams were a combined 67-4 in those seasons, including a 36-0 mark and No. 1 national ranking in 2015.

They beat Cathedral in a regular-season match in 2018, starting a five-match winning streak – which is still going — against the perennial power.

If you beat Mt. Vernon, chances are you are going to go a long way. In eight years, along with the four losses to state champs, the other four were to eventual sectional champions.

Five times in eight years, the Marauders finished the season in the top 15 of the MaxPreps.com state poll, six times they were in the top 24.

In 2019, they finishes No. 6. In 2020, they were No. 8. Last season’s team wrapped up at No. 14.

“It was special being able to step on the court any night and feel like you have a shot to win,” the coach said.

Coaching at Mt. Vernon was a family affair.

Eric’s wife, Monica, was the team’s assistant coach.

Three of the top players during that time were their daughters, Jaclyn (2014-16), Victoria (2016-19) and Cecilia (2018-21). There was always at least one daughter on the team during their eight-year coaching tenure.

Jaclyn just finished her collegiate career playing both at Valparaiso and Ball State. Victoria is currently playing at Valparaiso. Cecilia, the most recent of three to be the Daily Reporter’s Player of the Year, will play next season at Southern Illinois.

“Having (Monica and our daughters) be part of the program helped. I don’t think I could have done this if I did not have kids in the program and a wife not bought in,” Eric said. “You spend so much time away from home. All high school coaches don’t get a lot of pay and spend a lot of time away from home, watching video and doing a lot of behind the scenes work.”

Seven of Bulmahn’s players have gone on to the NCAA Division I level. Along with the three daughters, Delaney Bowser (UAB) and Meredith Hohnbaum (New Hampshire), classmates of Cecilia, will play at that level next season.

Other D-I players include, Grace Hurst (SIU-Edwardsville) and Julia Wayer (Purdue-Fort Wayne).

“I think the biggest reward I got out of (coaching Mt. Vernon) was, every year, the players gave full respect to me, full respect to each other. They were a joy to coach,” coach Bulmahn concluded.

Other players have gone on to play at Division II, Division III and NAIA schools.

Bulmahn said he’s not completely done with coaching. He still is a part of The Academy Volleyball Club and is coaching the 18-under team that includes his daughter Cecilia and Bowser.

“In the years prior to Eric being here, there were a few years where the program was really struggling,” Mt. Vernon athletic director Brandon Ecker said. “He took over a year before I (became AD) and it was already established when I got there.

“Over the course of the next seven, eight years, the program grew, not only in number of girls participating, but the competition level. … It’s hard to find someone who knows the sport as well as Eric. He’s invested a lot of his life in to volleyball. We appreciated the trajectory he has put this program on. We feel like it’s a great program for someone to step in and keep that trend. He definitely left it in really good shape.”

Eric Bulmahn’s Coaching Record Year-by-Year

Season;Overall;Ranking

2021;24-7;14

2020;22-5;8

2019;27-5;6

2018;24-9;24

2017;18-12;42

2016;27-8;10

2015;29-5;17

2014;24-9;45

8 yrs.;195-60

State rankings are from MaxPreps.com