Elmar Bolowich enters his second season at the helm of Creighton men’s soccer after leading the Bluejays to one of the most successful single-seasons in program history, earning a trip to the NCAA College Cup and a 21-2-1 record in 2011.
Bolowich picked up three coaching honors following his work in 2011, earning the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year, the Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staff of the Year and the MLSSoccer.com Coach of the Year, leading Creighton to its first College Cup in nine years. The Bluejays had four players earn All-America honors at the end of the season, with Andrew Duran, Ethan Finlay and Brian Holt being named to the first-team and Greg Jordan earning a second-team nod. Ten of 11 Bluejay starters earned MVC honors, as Creighton shared the regular-season title with a 5-1-0 mark, avenging the lone conference regular-season loss to Missouri State in the finals of the MVC Tournament.
Creighton’s 21 wins in 2011 mark the second most in a single season, just one win behind Bret Simon’s 22 wins with the 2000 club, while making Bolowich the winningest Creighton coach in his first year on the bench.
Bolowich joined the Bluejays following an amazing 22-year run at North Carolina, during which he helped the Tar Heels to their first national title in program history to conclude the 2001 season. He guided UNC to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances and four College Cups, including three straight trips to college soccer’s Final Four in his final three seasons in Chapel Hill. Six of his teams advanced to at least the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament and three teams captured at least a share of the ACC regular-season title in addition to winning the 2000 ACC Tournament championship.
Creighton Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen announced the hiring of Bolowich on Feb. 9, 2011, stating, “Elmar Bolowich had long-term success as the head coach at the University of North Carolina in the toughest soccer conference in the country. Elmar’s players have consistently demonstrated high academic achievement, they have been very involved in their community, they play aggressive, fun-to-watch soccer and they have represented themselves, their program and their University with great class and character. Elmar is a great teacher of the game who has consistently recruited, retained, developed and graduated outstanding young men. Above all else, Elmar is an outstanding person – we welcome him to the Creighton family and Omaha community.”
Bolowich is the winningest coach in UNC men’s soccer history, posting a 280-144-40 (.647) record during his 22 seasons in Chapel Hill. His 2001 NCAA title team finished 21-4-0, defeating Indiana in the title match. The only national title in program history was good enough to earn him National Coach of the Year honors from the NSCAA. He has now led his teams to a top-three finish in at least one national poll six times since 2000 and a top-10 finish eight times in the last 12 seasons, including a No. 3 ranking in the final 2010 NSCAA poll while at North Carolina and a No. 4 final ranking in 2011 at Creighton. Bolowich, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year (2000, 2010), led his teams to ACC regular-season titles in 2000, 2009 and 2010, putting together an unbeaten mark (7-0-1) in the nation’s strongest soccer conference in 2010. He is one of only five active coaches in NCAA Division I soccer to lead a team to four College Cup appearances.
Over his final three years at UNC, the Tar Heels played in the College Cup each season, posting a 47-14-9 (.736) record in that span. His 2008 team finished as national runners-up, while the 2009 and 2010 teams fell in the national semifinals. His teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals six times in his final 11 years with North Carolina. In both 2000 and 2001, he was named the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year, and in 1999, he was given the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association National Merit award, which is given annually to one college coach whose reputation is recognized by soccer officials as praiseworthy and reflective of the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior.
His remarkable run at North Carolina included 20 NCAA Tournament wins, 16 more than the program had in the 42 years of soccer before his arrival. He coached 14 individuals who earned a combined 21 NSCAA All-America honors, including a trio of All-Americans in 2010. His players garnered 28 ACC First-Team honors and he coached five ACC Rookies of the Year.
In addition to excelling on the field, Bolowich’s teams have also put together a sparkling resumé in the classroom. In his last full season at UNC, nine Tar Heels earned a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll. The cumulative grade-point average of the men’s soccer team at UNC annually ranked among the highest of any men’s team on the Carolina campus during his tenure. From 2005 to 2010, 11 different men’s soccer student-athletes were named Academic All-ACC, including a school-record four on the 2010 squad.
Bolowich not only produces winning collegiate teams, but he has a proven track record of developing young men into international and professional players. Twenty-one players who were coached by Bolowich at UNC played professionally in 2010, including 11 in Major League Soccer and three abroad. In total, Bolowich has coached 37 players who have been selected in MLS drafts since 1996, including a school-record tying four from Creightn in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Highlighting some of the players produced at UNC under the watch of Bolowich are MLS All-Star and United States World Cup veteran Eddie Pope, and U.S. National Team and MLS veterans Kerry Zavagnin and Gregg Berhalter. Both Pope and Berhalter were members of the 2006 U.S. World Cup squad as Pope was making his third World Cup appearance and Berhalter his second. Dax McCarty, Logan Pause and Eddie Robinson also saw time with the U.S. National team after playing for Bolowich at UNC.
Bolowich arrived at North Carolina as a part-time assistant coach in 1986, before becoming a full-time assistant one year later. He was named head coach at UNC in March of 1989, as just the fourth head coach in the history of Tar Heel men’s soccer.
A native of Edenkoben, Germany, Bolowich played and coached at the semi-professional level in his native country at Wiesbaden, Mainz and Cuxhaven. He played collegiately and graduated from the University of Mainz (Germany) in 1981 with a diploma in sports education. Prior to his stint at Mainz, he served two years in the German Luftwaffe (Air Force).
In addition to holding a USSF A-License, Bolowich received his coaching license from the German Football Federation in 1981. Bolowich was active in youth soccer in North Carolina, serving as a regional staff coach with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Olympic Development Program for Region III and as Director of Coaching for the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association. He coached the Durham-Chapel Hill Strikers U-19 club team to the 1990 Maguire Cup Final Four and, starting in 2007, he coached the Triangle United Soccer Association’s boys Gold team, leading them to three state and regional championships. Triangle United also advanced to two national finals under his guidance.
Bolowich, 58, and his wife of 25 years, Nina, have a daughter, Alya (23), and a son, Alex (20). Alex is a goalkeeper for the Bluejays this season.