A distinguished career
Long-time Box Elder softball coach Jim Fuller proved nay-sayers wrong, honored as a Distinguished Coach at Utah Hall of Fame ceremony
Jim Fuller was honored last month with a Distinguished Coach Award at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation’s 2014 Honors and Awards Banquet.
Long-time Box Elder High School softball coach Coach Jim Fuller was honored last month with a Distinguished Coach Award at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation’s 2014 Honors and Awards Banquet.
It is just one of many coaching awards he has received in spite of the fact that, early in his career, he was told that he would never be a successful coach.
Fuller is widely credited with developing and growing girls’ softball in Utah. In his 21 seasons as head coach at Box Elder and Freemont High Schools, Fuller produced six state champions, 14 regional titles and a 423-114 record.
Under his leadership, the Box Elder Bees won 11 regional championships in a row and five state titles in seven years. In addition, four of his teams finished second in the state tournament. After he moved to Fremont, he won a regional title in his first year and a state championship in his second season.
Such an impeccable success record has brought considerable recognition. He was named Utah State Softball “Coach of the Year” in 1995. He received the Utah Women in Sports “Coach of the Year” for all sports in the state in 1997. After his fifth state title in 2001, he earned Section 7 Honors from the National Federation Coaches Association.
It’s a pretty impressive record for someone who “would never be a successful coach.”
Fuller, an Oregon native, was a shy youngster. He remembers having to give a talk before leaving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His never once looked at the audience and completed the five minute talk in three and a half minutes.
In the mission field, he met a blind professor playing basketball. They became instant friends. When explaining how he was able to play basketball, the professor said, “All I can see is a big thick line. The basket never changes location.” This taught Fuller about staying focused.
Fuller wanted to have a career where he could help kids and decided, during an AP World Civilization class, that he could make a difference by being teacher. He graduated from BYU with a major in Psychology and minors in Math and History . . . and an education endorsement.
When he got his first job in Snowflake, Arizona, he was also assigned to coach boys’ basketball and baseball. Once he tasted sports coaching, his life was transformed. He knew coaches could dramatically affect the lives of their students.
Fuller moved to Brigham City in 1976 and was hired by Box Elder as the boys’ Junior Varsity coach. At the same time, his daughters started getting involved in sports. Softball was approved as a sport for the girls and his oldest daughter began actively playing. He found it was impossible to coach the boys and watch his daughters’ games. He chose his daughters.
“Then in 1990, something magical happened,” Fuller recalls. “Men were allowed to coach girls’ sports.” This approval came after his oldest daughter graduated so he never got to coach her, but he coached all her younger sisters. His teams immediately started winning and were soon ranked in the top 20 teams in national leagues.
However, Fuller was not just about winning. He was about making it special for the kids, he was about making memories. “Memories make people stronger,” Fuller says. “Participating in something that is making memories affects your whole life.”
Fuller also never hung the whole team’s fate on single players. He knew his students had other responsibilities and commitments and that if one player couldn’t invest the time another one would come along who could. He encouraged them to participate in other activities to help them become well-rounded. ”There’s more to life than softball,” he would tell them.
Hence the prediction that he would never be a successful coach, along with the accusation that he “put his family first, his classes first, his values first.”
“Education has been good to me,” says Fuller, who is now retired. “The combination of both teaching and coaching has made life sweeter.” He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy with children and former students who have chosen careers in education, and coaches he has trained who carry on his tradition of creating winning teams.
BE wrestler earns third national title
It has been a productive few weeks for young Box Elder wrestler Brock Hardy.
First, Hardy, who will be a freshman and wrestle for Box Elder High School this fall, won his third consecutive U.S.A. Wrestling National Folkstyle championship, before taking third at the Reno World Championships two weeks ago.
At the folkstyle nationals, Hardy won four of his five matches by fall—including in the championship bout—none of which took longer than 2:20.
Hardy’s third national title is a particularly prestigious accomplishment, as winning three in a row is a difficult task. Just ask Travis Whitlake from Oregon, the wrestler who was hailed as perhaps the top wrestler his age and weight in the nation, and who had been featured in Sports Illustrated just prior to getting beat by Hardy. The win earned Hardy his first of the three folkstyle championships, and was Whitlake’s first loss.
Another wrestler from Utah won a national folkstyle championship two years running, but lost this year.
“Brock has more potential than any other wrestler I’ve ever seen,” said Brock’s older brother, Koleton Hardy, who is a two-time Utah 4A state champ and wrestles for Utah Valley University. “People say he’s one of the best youth wrestlers to ever come out of Utah.”
Koleton Hardy recalls that when he was on college recruiting trips and Brock was in eighth grade, coaches were asking Koleton about his younger brother.
Brock Hardy currently possesses the top spot in U.S.A. Wrestling’s “Future Olympians” rankings in the schoolboy 128 division.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Koleton Hardy, who added that Brock making the Olympics someday is a dream that has been discussed.
“Whatever I’ve got to do to help him achieve that goal, I’ll do,” Koleton Hardy said.