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Eastern Washington assistant coach Heath Pulver followed his instincts back to Cheney

EWU special teams/tight ends coach Heath Pulver speaks to players during practice last week in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
EWU special teams/tight ends coach Heath Pulver speaks to players during practice last week in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s been quite a year for Heath Pulver.

In just a few months, Pulver has changed jobs twice, got married and had the unique experience of having the past and present Eastern Washington football coaches vie for his services.

And it’s only August, which offers no time for Pulver to catch his breath.

The 36-year-old Spokane native is back where he was six years ago – coaching special teams and tight ends at Eastern – and he couldn’t be happier.

At least Pulver knew what he was getting into: a chance to coach near his hometown for a winning program. That much hasn’t changed since Pulver left six years ago to coach in the FBS ranks.

“The culture that’s been built, to stay calm and don’t panic in a game, that goes to the kids, too,” said Pulver, alluding to the influence of former Eastern coach Beau Baldwin.

After the Eagles won the national title in 2010, Pulver stuck around for another year before working for another former Eagle, Jim McElwain, at Colorado State.

In Fort Collins, Pulver spent five years working with tight ends and in offensive quality control. He stayed at CSU when McElwain was hired at Florida – good thing, because that’s where he met Brittany Koehler, a former athletic trainer at CSU.

Pulver joined California’s staff this spring as offensive quality control coach, working with Baldwin.

Then came the crazy part. Expecting to stay in Berkeley, California, Pulver put down a deposit – “a very expensive deposit,” he said – on an apartment, when new EWU coach Aaron Best gave him a call.

Baldwin pleaded with him to stay, but Pulver wanted to be a position coach again.

Convinced to return to Cheney, Pulver had to persuade his fiancée.

“We make these decisions together, because we’re a team,” said Pulver, who flew to Colorado, drove a Penske truck with their belongings to Spokane.

“We squeezed in a honeymoon and then I had to get organized for work,” said Pulver, who lives in Spokane.

Pulver will work with the tight ends, but his biggest role will be with special teams. The last two years at Eastern, Baldwin had divvied up the units, but Pulver will oversee them all.

“It is always an added bonus that every special teams unit hears one voice from one coach, and Heath is going to be that guy,” Best said. “His passion for special teams has been evident since his time here at EWU.”

That passion led to Pulver pulling a sledgehammer from his grandfather’s garage and turning it into a reward for outstanding special teams play.

“I have a couple of ideas to get kids involved, as a rewards system for extra effort, and I think the kids will like it,” Pulver said.

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