Fullmer back in as Chugiak hoops coach

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 11:34
Chugiak coach Kevin Fullmer talks to his team during a timeout in this file photo from 2007. Fullmer, who coached the team between 1996 and 2009, has again been named the school’s head boys basketball coach.

Kevin Fullmer is returning to the sidelines at Chugiak High School.

Chugiak principal Sam Spinella confirmed on Tuesday that Fullmer, a social studies teacher at the school who coached the boys basketball team from 1996 to 2009, has been chosen to once again fill that position.

“He brings experience in coaching, he’s worked with the kids and he’s got a good reputation,” Spinella said on Tuesday.

Fullmer takes over for Orin Wear, a Mat-Su math teacher who coached the team for two years before stepping down after last season. Wear went 21-23 at Chugiak.

“I’m just not a good fit there,” Wear said.

Fullmer teaches at Chugiak, which Spinella said makes the former coach “a better fit,” than someone who would have to commute to and from practice and games.

“As a principal at a high school I always look forward to having my coaches on staff at the school,” Spinella said.

Fullmer graduated from Chugiak in 1981. He spent five years as the boys junior varsity coach before taking over the head job. He guided the Mustangs to seven state tournament appearances in 13 seasons, including a trip to the Class 4A title game in 2006. Fullmer earned Alaska Coach of the Year honors that season after taking a fourth-place Cook Inlet Conference team all the way to the state finals.

On Tuesday, Fullmer said he’s happy to be returning to the bench and excited about getting to work rebuilding the program.

“Let’s just have a good season with the kids and help ‘em excel,” Fullmer said.

Fullmer said he’ll have a tough time saying goodbye to the players at Bartlett, where he said he forged strong bonds with the players during the Golden Bears’ championship run.

“I had quite a connection over there,” Fullmer said.

Chugiak finished 7-14 last season and lost in the first round of the CIC tournament.

The new coach isn’t promising miracles his first season back. In fact, he admitted that the Mustangs likely will face an uphill battle when conference play begins Jan. 3.

“Every game is a dog fight,” he said.

Fullmer’s hiring almost didn’t happen. Last week, the school’s administration held a “meet and greet” for parents and players to get to know candidates for the coaching position. At the time, Spinella said there were two applicants — Fullmer, and another coach Spinella declined to name.

Fullmer was the only one who showed up the event, and Spinella said the other candidate pulled his name from consideration. But as of Monday morning, the Chugiak principal said the position was still vacant.

Chugiak junior Roger Jorgensen said he felt Fullmer was an ideal candidate, and couldn’t imagine why the former head coach wouldn’t be a quick hire.

“He’s the most experienced, he’s the one we should have,” Jorgensen said before Fullmer was hired.

Jorgensen even went so far as to circulate a petition in favor of Fullmer, which he said more than 250 Chugiak students signed.

“We just want a coach,” Jorgensen said.

Now that Fullmer’s hiring is official, the new coach said he thinks the best way for the team to move forward is hard work.

“I think they need some gym time,” he said.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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