“Catching up with the ‘Cats” tracks Weber State basketball alumni to find out where they are and what they’re doing now. This edition features Kyle Bullinger, the head coach of the Bonneville Lakers basketball team.
OGDEN — Kyle Bullinger may have wrapped up playing basketball at Weber State in 2012, but his career as a high school coach is just beginning as he wrapped up his first season at the helm for the Bonneville Lakers boys basketball team.
Despite missing the state tournament with a record of 10-11, Bullinger is happy with his team and optimistic about where the program is headed.
“The main thing I like about being at Bonneville is the quality of the kids,” he said. “They got along with each other. Our seniors were great leaders. You never had to coax them to practice hard or coax them to buy into anything that you were trying to teach them, and that’s because they’ve been well coached in the past. It was a treat to coach them.”
Though he only has one campaign under his belt, Bullinger speaks as a seasoned coach when talking about the main focus of his team, which is the kids.
When asked about his career goals and if coaching on a higher level is on his mind, he responded with an answer that every parent would love to hear.
“If I’m not dedicating all of my energy to the kids that are with us now and that are going to be in our program in the future, then I’m doing a disservice to them,” he said. “I try and focus on what’s in front of us right now, and we’re trying to build a program at Bonneville. All energy is going towards towards that motive.”
At the beginning of the season, Bullinger went to his old coach at Weber State in Randy Rahe to get his feet on the ground. After the season got started, he relied more on other high school coaches rather than asking advice from a coaching staff “that was trying to win a Big Sky Championship.”
Bullinger installed a similar system to that of Randy Rahe’s at Weber State, as it was the scheme that he knew best.
As expected, Bullinger is often asked about his time playing with Damian Lillard, but instead of making the conversation about being on the same team as an NBA All-Star and Rookie of the Year, it’s used as a teaching tool.
“He’s such a terrific example to the young kids, because any success that Damian’s had he’s earned, and he’s earned it the hard way,” said Bullinger. “Anytime kids bring up Damian, I try to shift it as quickly as possible to what makes him so great. It’s a really easy conversation to have because there are so many character traits that Damian possesses that allow him to be so successful.”
As far as telling about his own glory days at Weber State, Bullinger says the closest thing is the YouTube video of him dislocating his elbow coming down hard after going for a rebound.
The video has over 92,000 views, but Bullinger doesn’t show the clip to his players. Instead, he tells them they can look it up on their own time.
“I always felt that my athletic feats would get me on YouTube someday, and they did,” he said. “Just the exact same way I thought they would, too. I knew it was only a matter of time.”
Bullinger also teaches history and finance at Bonneville High, and loves that part of his job for the same reason he loves coaching.
“It’s amazing to see these kids,” he said. “It seems every year there’s such a large percentage of them that have such a passion for learning. It’s a credit to how they were raised, it’s a credit to the schools and the teachers. It’s a really fun profession to be involved in.”