With Loyola’s men’s volleyball former head coach Shane Davis’ resignation, many in the Loyola community were shocked, questioning what would happen to the men’s volleyball program.
But the show must go on — for men’s volleyball, this means the team will be guided by a new figure along the sidelines, clipboard in hand. Enter Mark Hulse.
Loyola’s athletic department announced on Dec. 28 that Hulse, Davis’ former assistant coach, would become the new head coach of the program.
Hulse, who is an Evanston, Illinois native, grew up playing basketball. During his first year of high school, Hulse joined the men’s volleyball team, where he found great success in the sport and continued to play at the collegiate level.
Hulse moved to the East Coast to play at Rutgers-Newark University. After two years as a key component for the Scarlet Raiders, Hulse ventured across the country to finish his last two years of NCAA eligibility at Pepperdine University. The 6-foot-8 middle blocker played a big part in the Wave’s 2008 national championship run. Unfortunately, Pepperdine’s post-season run fell short when Penn State defeated the Wave in the championship game.
Hulse said he credits his collegiate success as a player to Pepperdine’s head coach Marv Dunphy, who also aided Hulse in his transition to coaching.
“In retrospect, being [at Pepperdine] helped the transition,” said Hulse. “The coaching at Pepperdine was a very different style then at Rutgers. I learned a lot from [Dunphy], a guy who’s been around for a long time and coached the Olympic team.”
After Hulse graduated in 2009 with a degree in political science, he returned to the Midwest to pursue a coaching gig close to home.
“I heard there was an opening [at Loyola], and I jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “I knew Shane a little bit, personally. So I had an in, and I was able to convince him to hire me as his assistant coach.”
Hulse said he is “eternally grateful” that Davis gave him an opportunity even though he was inexperienced and fresh out of college.
During his four years working alongside Davis as an assistant coach, he helped coach the Ramblers to consecutive national championships. In 2014, Hulse was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Assistant Coach of the Year. He was also recognized on the AVCA Thirty Under 30 list for his early and immediate success as a collegiate coach.
Just as everyone else was, Davis’ departure shocked Hulse. However, he said Davis was very transparent throughout the whole process.
After four years of experience coaching with a high caliber head coach, the new leader of men’s volleyball said he is eager to fill the shoes of his predecessor.
“In men’s volleyball, there isn’t always a lot of turnover,” Hulse said. “So I was excited to be able to have an opportunity to call Chicago home for a very long time. So after the initial shock, I was very happy.”
For Hulse, the challenges of taking on a nationally ranked collegiate volleyball program have yet to arrive, and the transition has included some expected bumps and hitches. Hulse joked that the biggest change that came with the job was moving offices.
The Ramblers enter Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association conference play with a 5-2 overall record, spurred by a current five-match winning streak. Loyola is scheduled to play Lindenwood University on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. The Ramblers will then travel to Quincy, Illinois, to play the Hawks at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6.
While the men’s volleyball team will look to a familiar face in the huddle, his new title and responsibilities have undoubtedly changed. For Hulse and his team, however, the show must simply go on.