Entering his third season as the Head Men's and Women's Water Polo Coach at Salem International University, Coach Robert Bullion has the Water Polo program heading in the right direction. Bullion took over with first-hand knowledge of SIU and the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) As a 2011 graduate of Gannon University with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Business Management, he played four years for the Gannon Men's Water Polo team which competes as a member of the CWPA. He finished his collegiate playing career with 28 goals, 18 assists, and 37 steals.
Robert, a native of Buffalo, NY, comes from a rich heritage of Water Polo and, in particular, Salem International University. His father, current SIU Athletic Director Keith Bullion, guided the SIU Tigers Men's Water Polo team to the CWPA Eastern Division II Championship in 2004 and a berth in the Eastern Championship Tournament.
"Rob's playing experience is valuable to us as we try to develop and rebuild our programs here at SIU," Keith Bullion said. "He has been around the game for most of his sporting life, he has benefitted from outstanding coaches at the Empire State Games, various youth leagues and Coach Don Sherman's guidance at Gannon. His first-hand knowledge of Salem and the teams in the CWPA conference will greatly benefit him."
Under Robert's watch, SIU's Borislav Kovacev (Becej, Serbia) earned CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Week honors and a spot on the CWPA Division II All-Tournament Team in 2011. Kovacev also was a 30-goal scorer that was only trumped by Ryan Wells' (Glendora, CA) 40-goal season.
In 2012, Bullion's bunch notched the first program win since 2005 in the form of a 20-9 victory over Penn State-Behrend on September 9th. Kovacev was selected to the CWPA Division II All-Tournament Team and was a 30-goal scorer for the second straight year. Paul Strube (Berlin, Germany) and Jorge Flores (San Diego, CA) had 40 and 60 goals apiece in the year. Kristopher Arnold (Markham, IL) grabbed 200 saves in goal while the team averaged 11.5 goals per game.
Coach Bullion's men's squad also excels out of the pool, finishing the year with a team grade point average of 3.18 and tied for 8th in Team GPA in the 2012 ACWPC All-Academic Awards which featured five (5) SIU Water Polo Players; Myles Swartz (Thornhill, Ontario, Canada), Kovacev, Strube, Flores, and Arnold. Coach Bullion was selected as CWPA Division II Coach of the Year.
On the women's water polo side, Bullion has spent most of his efforts on the recruiting trail, attempting to also resurrect the program. In 2012, SIU's Kerinn Fields (Temecula, CA) scored 60 goals for the season.
Salem International competes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA). Today the CWPA is the largest water polo conference in the country with teams in 75% of the states nationwide. Including both intercollegiate varsity competition and club competition, it stands as the only conference of this type.