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A life lived by faith and service

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Tim Fuller and his wife Cindy. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

For a just man falls seven times and rises up again. – Proverbs 24:16

Tim Fuller’s parents, Ornell and Tonya Fuller, raised him to believe in God, and with God, all things are possible. Tim seemed to have it all going for him and his wife, Cindy, and their young family.

Fuller was one year removed from playing for the Blue Trophy in football as the head coach at Dexter. He went 4-8 in 2009 but was shocked not to have his coaching contract renewed. Fuller had a 48-33 record and had made the playoffs every year except in 2005.

Wondering what had happened and what he was going to do, he tried not to ask God, why me? Fuller was determined not to let this situation make him bitter but better. That decision allowed him to grow closer in his faith and walk with God.

As a man of faith, Fuller knows the importance of walking by faith and not by sight, especially when bad things happen to good people. As a servant of Christ, Fuller had to walk down the path he felt the Lord was leading him to serve at Valley Christian Academy for a year, ENMU-Roswell for a year and Gateway Christian for a year, until he was placed at University High School as a special-education teacher.

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Finding purpose

“When I played here,” Fuller said, “one of the greatest coaches Roswell ever had was A.J. Brown. He was the freshman coach, the reason that Bradley and Cisco were great and able to win all those games was they had a good freshman coach.

They had a great program that fed into the upper levels, and that’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be like coach Brown. He taught us how to be men. He would get after us, and we had a blast playing for him; we learned football. That’s my job for coach Lynn. I want to be his coach Brown.”

Fuller has been the freshman football coach for Roswell for the last four years. One of the highlights of his life has been to coach his son Tim as a ninth-grader. Fuller’s goal is to teach the freshman football so that when coach Lynn gets them, he doesn’t have to worry about the trick things or the little things.

Fuller runs Roswell’s base offense, teaches the players how to do and handle onside kicks, how to give up safeties. Fuller is more concerned with teaching the little details about the game. He feels it’s his mission to prepare the players for the junior varsity and varsity football, so they can step in and not miss a beat. Fuller and his staff have won three Border Conference titles outright and tied for one.

“With coach Lynn’s leadership, we’ve done well at the freshman level,” Fuller said. “We’ve got great athletes, and I’ve got other good freshman coaches. When we’re done with them, the varsity coaches are terrific, they don’t have time to mess around with the little stuff. We teach our kids to be students of the game.”

Fuller as an Athlete

Fuller played football at Roswell and was coached by Jim Bradley. He started off as a defensive end and was moved to linebacker as a sophomore. He played linebacker and made All-State in his junior and senior year. On offense, he played guard and center, making First Team All-State center. He played in three championship games in high school losing to New Mexico Highlands as a sophomore. In his junior year, RHS beat Mayfield for the title, and in his senior season, they beat Clovis at Clovis, 14-7.

Fuller believes what made coach Bradley so successful was Bradley’s ability to motivate his players and get them to give their best. Bradley’s players believed in him that they would run through walls for him.

Another thing Fuller feels Bradley did for his players was to teach them to be men and show them that there was life after football and how to work as a team. According to Fuller, Bradley hired good assistant coaches, and he let them coach.

ENMU

After graduating from Roswell with honors in ‘89, Fuller decided to walk-on at Eastern New Mexico University’s football team. Fuller planned to miss two-a-days and walk-on when school started, but two linebackers got hurt. One of the linebackers shot themselves in the foot, and another fell into a hole and blew his knee out.

ENMU was short scout team linebackers and head coach Don Carthel called and asked Fuller the week before double sessions to come in for two-a-days.

“He’s probably one of my favorite coaches,” Fuller said. “He’s one of the most influential coaches I’ve had. I loved playing for him; he’s a good Christian man with morals. He did things I try to do.”

In his sophomore year at ENMU, Fuller saw the field as a deep snapper and after other linebackers got hurt, he started. Once he started, Fuller was good enough to keep the position for his sophomore and junior year. In his junior season, he helped lead the ‘Hounds to the Wagon Wheel and a Lone Star Conference title in ‘91 with a record of 7-3-1.

“He was a great deep snapper for us,” former Greyhounds coach Don Carthel said. “He was an excellent middle linebacker and great special teams player for us. The most important thing about Tim (Fuller) was his leadership and his knowledge about the game. The guy studied film all the time. He knew everybody’s position and what they were supposed to do. I’m not surprised at all that he is an excellent coach. He was a student of the game from the first day he set foot on campus.”

Coaching

Fuller’s knees were bad, so new Greyhounds’ head coach Howard Stearns asked him to coach as a student assistant while he finished his degree, giving Fuller an athletic scholarship. Until that point he was on an academic scholarship. Fuller graduated early with a biology degree and had to stay another year to get his teaching license. Originally, Fuller wanted to be a doctor, but once he started coaching, he was hooked.

“I learned a lot from both coaches,” Fuller said. “Once I started coaching at college, I was coaching guys whom I was two or three years older than. I learned that you had to create the separation, they can’t be your friend. I see that with a lot of new coaches coming to the profession, they want to be player’s friends. You can be friendly, but when it comes to it, you’re the coach.”

Coach Bradley left, and the Coyotes hired Jack Cisco in ‘93. Fuller was student teaching, and Cisco asked if he wanted to teach and coach. In his last year in 2000, Roswell won the state title against Piedra Vista. It was a game they still talk about as RHS trailed 31-7 in the third quarter, but the Coyotes mounted a comeback to win 35-31.

Fuller remembers in that game, the biggest obstacle the players had to overcome was the coaches. Once the coaches settled down and allowed the kids to play football, the team ended up winning. Fuller felt like Piedra Vistas played not to lose the game, looking at the clock trying to rush the game into being over with while the Coyote kids started having fun and relaxed. Back then, Roswell ran out of the I formation with DonTrell Moore, and they went up and down the field.

“I remember that group fondly,” Fuller said. One day, they wanted to kill each other and the next day they’re best friends.”

With this win, Fuller is one of a few coaches who has won a state championship as a player and assistant coach.

“As a player, to win a championship, that’s it,” Fuller said, “that’s everything. As a coach, I was excited for the other coaches, but you’re really excited for the players. You know the work they had to put into it because you’ve done it. You know the work coaches had to put into it. Coaches work seven days a week; it’s a lot of work. However, you’re proud of those kids because they are able to earn that and say, ‘we’re state champs.’”

Dexter

In 2001, Fuller was hired as the defensive coordinator for two years at Dexter. Finally, Deery Moore hired him to be the head coach. Fuller was successful as a head coach with two back-to-back seasons of 11-1; in each of those seasons, his teams played in the semifinals and for the state championship. Fuller ended his career with a record of 48-33.

Firefighter

One of the things that has given Fuller enjoyment as an educator is the impact he has made on his former athletes and students. He feels blessed to have coached at least 30 percent of the city of Roswell firefighters. The best feeling for Fuller is his athletes are serving people and being productive members of society. Fuller has been a firefighter for 37 years and is a deputy chief for Midway.

“When I see my former students who are firefighters, it touches me,” Fuller said, “because they are helping others. Something I did for them hopefully paid off, and they are helping other people, and it ripples out.”

Character Counts

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11

Fuller has been executive director of Character Counts since 2011, taking over for Cla Avery. Fuller is trying to honor teachers through Character Counts. Character Counts honors kids in October, through art, poetry and an essay contest, and they honor kids for doing the right thing.

“Having good character isn’t born into you,” Fuller said. “We as adults have to step up and teach these kids. The elementary schools and the schools in the valley and all of Chaves County are doing a great job. Overall, the schools have stayed involved in Character Counts.”

Character Counts goes from kindergarten through college, in the fall, they honor policemen, firefighters and volunteer firefighters.

“They will honor a boy and a girl from every school in the valley and Chaves County. We honor athletes for their character; we’re looking forward to trying to honor coaches. In the past, we used to do that. They are trying to honor a male and female coach from each school.”

Last word

“I enjoyed playing high school sports,” Fuller said, “it was a great experience. I learned a lot about becoming a man. High school athletics really does reflect life. I wanted my life to count and to impact lives. I want my students to be good people and help others.”

Family

Fuller lives in Midway with his wife, Cindy, and their children Mikayla, 19, a sophomore at New Mexico State University; Tim, 17, a senior at Roswell High School; and Laci, 12, a sixth-grader at Mountain View Middle School. In addition to being a ninth-grade football coach, he’s the head track coach for RHS.

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