Flanked by Manhattan College president Brennan O'Donnell and athletic director Marianne Reilly, Heather Vulin is introduced as Jaspers' new women's basketball coach. (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics)
Manhattan College christened the latest chapter in its women's basketball program Friday morning, officially welcoming Heather Vulin to Riverdale as the eighth head coach in Jasper history.
"I'm so thankful and honored for this amazing opportunity that Manhattan College has given me," said Vulin in her introductory press conference inside Draddy Gymnasium. "From the moment I walked on campus, I felt the energy and the commitment to make Manhattan College the best it can be from everyone I met with."
Vulin replaces John Olenowski, whose contract was not renewed after guiding Manhattan to a 12-win improvement in his seventh season at the helm last year, finishing 15-16 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Jaspers' new shepherd is no stranger to success in the Division I coaching ranks, having spent 16 years as an assistant, first at North Dakota State before spending six years on the staff of Ed Swanson at Sacred Heart and seven more with the legendary Harry Perretta at Villanova. Most recently, Vulin was an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, where she helped lead a seven-win improvement in Blacksburg as the Hokies accepted a bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament. In her tenure as an assistant, Vulin's teams enjoyed winning campaigns in all but two of those 16 seasons.
"I'm not afraid to say our goal here at Manhattan College is to win a MAAC championship," she said moments after describing herself as an "incredibly competitive person."
"More importantly, we'll do things the right way, and we won't cut corners," she continued. "We will not sacrifice character and integrity for short-term success."
Vulin inherits a roster that, although losing five seniors to graduation, remains a competitive unit, as reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Amani Tatum and rim protector Kayla Grimme return for their junior seasons, as do perimeter threats Nyasha Irizarry and Taylor Williams.
"I think right now, this team really wants to win," Vulin told the Jasper Sports Network's Christian Heimall shortly after her official welcome to the Manhattan community. "With what we have returning, I'm really excited, because a lot of times when you get an opportunity, it's because the program's not in good shape. I'm very blessed that we have our top three scorers coming back, and obviously Amani's defensive presence and Kayla's blocks."
"It's surreal," she admitted of the whirlwind experience that now culminates in her first career head coaching opportunity. "It's overwhelming, but it's just extra rewarding because it was worth the wait."