OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton University Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen announced Wednesday the hiring of Elmar Bolowich as the next head coach of the Bluejay men's soccer program. Bolowich, the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year, has served as the head coach at North Carolina for the last 22 seasons, leading the Tar Heels to the 2001 NCAA championship, College Cup appearances in each of the last three seasons and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1989.
"Elmar Bolowich has had long-term success as the head coach at the University of North Carolina in the toughest soccer conference in the country," said Rasmussen of his latest hire. "Of great importance to me has been the process - 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 (pronounced BOWL-o-vich) is excited to take over a Creighton program which has appeared in 18 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments.
"I am very honored and excited to formally accept the head coaching position for the men's soccer team at Creighton University," said Bolowich. "Bruce Rasmussen has made me an offer I couldn't refuse, as he is willing and able to provide the resources to make Creighton soccer a national power. I was sold when I saw beautiful Morrison Stadium and the facilities, when I saw the online pictures of the crowds at games, when I saw the 'Blue Crew' in person at a recent basketball game and when I met the Creighton family of administrators, coaches, players and President Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J."
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. The Tar Heels advanced to 15 NCAA Tournaments in his 22 seasons, including 10 of his final 11 years. His 2001 team captured the NCAA title, finishing 21-4-0 for the first national title in program history, good enough to earn him NSCAA National Coach of the Year honors. He led his teams to a top-three finish in at least one national poll five times since 2000, and a top-10 finish seven times in the last 11 seasons, including a No. 3 ranking in the final 2010 NSCAA poll. Bolowich, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, 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.
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.
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 33 players that have been selected in MLS drafts since 1996, including four taken in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Highlighting some of the players produced at UNC under the watch of Bolowich is MLS All-Star and U.S. World Cup veteran Eddie Pope. U.S. National Team and MLS veterans, Kerry Zavagnin and Gregg Berhalter, also played collegiately under Bolowich.
"The Bluejays already have a fine reputation in the college men's soccer world and I want to continue that reputation and take it to the next level," continued Bolowich. "It is a soccer coach's dream to be given the proper venue in which to lead a group of dedicated, talented and passionate young men with the common goal of reaching the College Cup. I am confident that with the support of the Omaha community, we will have a 12th man on the field, giving our current team energy and encouragement through this first season. I look forward to seeing in person what everyone has told me in regards to the great atmosphere at Creighton home games. I will proudly wear my Creighton blue as I settle down with my family here in Omaha."
Bolowich, a native of Edenkoben, Germany, played and coached on the semi-professional level in his native country after graduating from the University of Mainz (Germany) in 1981 with a diploma in sports education. Prior to playing collegiate soccer, he served two years in the German Luftwaffe (Air Force). He joined the North Carolina program 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, just the fourth head coach in the 64-year history of Tar Heel men's soccer. In addition to his work at UNC, Bolowich remained active coaching youth soccer in North Carolina throughout his time in Chapel Hill.
Bolowich, 56, and his wife of 23 years, Nina, have a daughter, Alya (21) and a son, Alex (18).
In addition to the hiring of Bolowich as the seventh head coach in Creighton men's soccer history, it was announced that assistant coach Johnny Torres will remain on staff. Torres, a two-time National Player of the Year and Hall of Famer at Creighton, recently concluded his fourth season on the Bluejay bench as coach.
"Johnny Torres is a part of the Creighton soccer family," said Rasmussen. "We feel very fortunate to be able to keep Johnny on staff and we are excited that he will team with Elmar to continue the tradition of excellence he's helped establish at Creighton."
"I also look forward to working with Johnny Torres," said Bolowich. "I think we are going to work very well together, as I see our styles complimenting one another. He is essential to keeping the transition as continuous for the players as possible, and he will be a valuable asset."
Creighton finished the season 13-5-2 and ranked 14th in the final NSCAA poll of 2010, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in 19 seasons. The Bluejays return their top six scorers and eight starters from the 2010 team, including MVC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year candidate Ethan Finlay. Finlay led the MVC with 15 goals and 34 points and will enter his senior season tied for sixth in school history with 29 career goals. Finlay is one of four first-team all-MVC performers returning for the Jays, alongside midfielders Dion Acoff, Jose Gomez and Greg Jordan.
The Jays also return three-year starting goalkeeper Brian Holt, who already owns the school record with 27 career shutouts entering his senior campaign. Holt carries a 36-11-8 career record and 0.79 career goals against average. MVC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American Tyler Polak, who played the most minutes of any Bluejay field player last year, is also back on defense for Creighton.