OGDEN -- When former Weber State forward Kyle Bullinger wrapped his career as a Wildcat three years ago, he and his wife were determined to move closer to his former home in Wyoming.
“As soon as we graduated, we said, ‘There is no way we are living in Utah another day in our life,’” he said. “Then one week later, I signed my contract at Fremont (High School) and my wife had her job at MarketStar.”
That contract was to be an assistant coach for the Silverwolves’ boys basketball team, but over time, Ogden grew on Bullinger and his wife, Katie.
“We applied for and interviewed for some jobs in Wyoming. We looked at Montana as well. But you end going where you can find work, and we both found work here in Ogden. We have definitely found a home,” said Bullinger. “The change of this city in the last eight years has been incredible. I think that it’s a wonderful place to live, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever leave. We love it here. We’ve found a home in Ogden. What a great place to start and raise a family.”
Now, Bullinger will start a new chapter in his career as a first-time head coach of Bonneville High’s boys basketball team.
“There’s a lot of great tradition at this school,” he said. “Jason Finder did a very good job before us in establishing a culture for the program and developing these kids. It was a good job to have, and I was really excited to even have the ability to apply for the job, I was really happy that Mr. Long (principal Raymond Long) would think of me for that.”
Bullinger was offered the position before the school went on its spring break, and he took the opportunity to introduce himself and his coaching style to his team.
“I’ve been around the boys now for the last seven or eight weeks installing our offense, installing how we’re going to do things,” said Bullinger. “We’ve been involved in a couple of local tournaments, we’re running our camp now, so with regards to being around the guys, that happened very early. That was something that I wanted to make sure we did as soon as possible.”
While the style of play will be dependent on the talent available on the roster, Bullinger said he will look to instill certain characteristics in all of his players and coaching staff.
“You’re not going to run in and say, ‘I’m going to run this offense, no matter what,’ because there’s a chance that it may not fit personnel. You’ve got to cater your system to the personnel,” said Bullinger. “One thing that won’t change, that will be required for our players is that they give great energy, great effort, and great toughness every single day.”
Along his collegiate career path, Bullinger picked up on philosophies not only from Coach Randy Rahe, but from former teammate and current Portland Trail Blazer Damian Lillard as well.
“He was our best player, and there was very little doubt that he was our best worker. The amount of time that he spent in the gym was phenomenal,” said Bullinger of the NBA All-Star. “I draw on the experiences that I’ve had with him a lot in the coaching philosophy that we’re going to try to instill here at Bonneville.”
Hard work is a principle that Bullinger found with all of the successful coaches he’s worked with, and looks to carry that to the Lakers in Washington Terrace.
“Between Coach Rahe and the coaches that I worked for at Fremont, there was a lot great information that those guys provided, whether it was directly or by just being around them for a number of years” said Bullinger. “The best piece of advice that I’ve had from any coach that’s been around that’s had a lot of success, is that there is no substitute from out-working somebody. As I watched those gentlemen coach and learn from them, all three of them and their staffs work very hard. I think that’s something that we need to hope to instill early on, not only in our players, but in our coaching staff as well. There’s not very much that supersedes that.”
Bullinger will be teaching social studies at Bonneville, and enjoys his time as a teacher.
“I’ve had so much fun being in the classroom with these great kids that are getting ready to go off to college,” said Bullinger. “Even when you’re coaching basketball, you’re still teaching a product. You’re teaching the game of basketball. You’re teaching values that are going to benefit children past their high school basketball team, past their senior year history class. I don’t know if there’s a more fun job out there than teaching. I’ve absolutely loved every second that I’ve had in the classroom.”