Chugiak loses longtime coaches
Chugiak High is losing more than six decades of coaching experience.
Three longtime coaches, Jon Schroeder, Kevin Fullmer and Top Dill, stepped down following the 2012-13 school year.
Since 1985, Schroeder has coached Chugiak’s C and JV football teams, flag football, girls C team basketball, boys JV basketball, boys varsity basketball, girls varsity basketball and track and field. Schroeder also served as the school’s athletic director for three years.
Coaching has always interested Schroeder.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Schroeder — who recently retired after 25 years as a Chugiak High teacher — said coaches form deeper bonds with their players compared to teacher-student relationships in school.
“The thing I’ll probably miss the most is the relationships you make coaching,” he said. “I got to coach a lot of great kids.”
In 1989, Schroeder guided the Mustangs to a boys basketball region title. He won a Class 4A state championship with the girls program in 2003.
He also won consecutive Cook Inlet Conference flag football titles in 2006 and 2007.
Schroeder’s most recent focus was on stabilizing the track and field team. After seeing nine different coaches in as many years, Schroeder ran the program the past three season and was named 2012 CIC head coach of the year.
Schroeder said he was proud to see Chugiak’s boys finish second in the conference meet this year.
“That region trophy’s pretty neat,” he said.
Assistant coach Melissa Hall is taking over as head coach of the track team and Marilyn Campnell will be running the flag football program.
Fullmer took over as head coach of the boys basketball program in 1996 and served in that role until 2009. After a two-year hiatus — and a state title as an assistant coach at Bartlett — Fullmer returned to Chugiak for two more seasons.
Fullmer and Schroeder worked together building Chugiak’s basketball program. Fullmer started as an assistant under Schroeder for five years, and Schroeder coached the boys JV team after Fullmer took over the varsity program.
Under Fullmer, the Mustangs made state seven times in 15 years, including an appearance in the Class 4A title game in 2006. Fullmer credited his athletes with those accomplishments.
“You’re only as good as your players,” he said.
A 1981 Chugiak High graduate, Fullmer said coaching has been a blessing.
“You raise a lot of sons,” he said.
Fullmer, who currently serves as a CHS social studies teacher, said coaching has been a wonderful experience.
“It’s been a great trip and a great journey,” he said. “A lot of great memories.”
The boys basketball head coach position is currently vacant.
MSgt. (retired) William “Top” Dill has coached varsity riflery for 16 years. A naval science instructor with Chugiak’s NJROCT program, Dill retired after 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and started teaching in 1992.
Dill was coaching the NJROTC riflery team, a position he’s held for two decades, when members of the varsity squad asked Dill to help Chugiak’s struggling program.
That’s just what he did.
Under Dill, Chugiak won three conference titles (1996, 1998, 1999) and four consecutive district crowns (1995-1998). (District titles are awarded to the team with the most cumulative points throughout the entire season whereas conference titles go to the highest scoring A team at one championship match).
Dill, who is only stepping down as the varsity coach, said it will be difficult to walk away, but it’s time to hand the reigns over to assistant coach Ryan Boothe.
“When you build something from scratch, it’s hard to let go,” he said. “You know when it’s your time to move on.”
Riflery teaches safety, valuable skills and builds lifelong friendships, Dill said.
“Attention to detail. The focus that the sport brings. I don’t think you can trade it in,” he said.
That same goes for Dill’s time running Chugiak’s varsity riflery program.
“I loved it.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org