One of the first things John Dietlin noticed about Michelle Mulka as a volleyball player and coach was her passion for the game.
Posen is hoping Mulka can take her passion and lead the Vikings to success after she was recently hired as the varsity volleyball coach.
"When the opportunity came up, I couldn't pass it up. It's great to be coaching again," Mulka said.
Mulka replaces Erin Riopelle, who coached the Vikings for the last two seasons.
Mulka is very familiar with Posen's program, having played from 2003-2007, when Dietlin was coach and serving as JV coach and an assistant under Dietlin from 2007-2010. She'll take over a squad that won back-to-back North Star League titles in 2008-2009 and won a district title in 2008.
"My goal is just to keep the program going, keep the records we've had in the past 10 years and try to stay above .500," Mulka said.
As a coach with the Vikings, Mulka said she was devastated when she had to give up coaching in order to further her education. After spending some time at Alpena Community College, Mulka headed to Saginaw Valley State, where she is studying to become a secondary special education teacher. In addition to coaching the Vikings this fall, she'll be commuting to Saginaw for classes a few times a week.
Mulka played a variety of positions for the Vikings in high school, but did some of her best work as an outside hitter both for the Vikings and Lumberjacks, helping set up the offense and helping her team score with a variety of attacks.
"She took on the responsibility of driving our offense, bringing every one over by spiking the ball down the line," Dietlin said. "She was our placement hitter."
Once she was done playing, Mulka turned to coaching and found she was a natural at striking a balance between making volleyball fun and teaching players the skills they need to be successful.
"She has a great passion for the game," Dietlin said. "She did a great job with the girls introducing the fun aspect of the game to the girls. A lot of girls had never played volleyball before and she had to make it fun, but also make them competitive."
Seeing young players take up an interest in volleyball is what excites Mulka as a coach and she's hoping to do her part to continue to build Posen's program.
"The lightbulb goes off when you see a player fall in love with a sport. I can't explain it," Mulka said. "You're the reason they're playing and they come up to you and say 'I love this!'"
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.