Northern State track and field coaches Jim Fuller and Brenda Fuller will be leaving NSU after 24 years with the Wolves. The Fullers have accepted positions at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
“There is never a good time to leave a program that you have made your life’s work,” said Jim, “but the opportunities to be around family, to start a subtle change in our careers and still have the opportunity to be on the track with kids every day, and to move to a smaller liberal arts college – which is the background we both came from – made this seem like the best time we might find.”
Jim’s new position will be as an associate head track and field coach. He will also serve as an instructor in Central’s exercise science department and will also have some administrative responsibilities. Brenda will also continue to coach the throwing events at Central, with other duties yet to be finalized.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to coach and teach here at Northern State University for the past 24 years,” said Jim. “When Dr. Kretchman and Dr. Sorge hired me back in 1988, the truth is I was completely unqualified for the position. They showed a great deal of faith in Brenda and me and took the time to help us become better coaches and better people.”
“Jim and Brenda Fuller have done an outstanding job at Northern,” said NSU Director of Athletics Josh Moon. “They have been a positive influence for thousands of Wolves student-athletes over the past 24 years. Northern has achieved a huge amount of success under their leadership, but as successful as they have been as coaches, they are even better people and we will miss them dearly. This is an exciting opportunity for their entire family and we wish the Fullers all the best in this next chapter of their life.”
Jim and Brenda came to NSU in 1988 when Jim was named as the head track and field and cross country coach. Under his guidance, the track and field squads have placed in the top 35 at the NCAA Division II and NAIA national championships 20 times. In 24 seasons with the track and field program and 16 with cross country, the Wolves have placed in the top four in 99 of 127 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship events, winning six team championships.
Jim has been named as the NSIC Track and Field Coach of the Year six times and league Cross Country Coach of the Year five times, having coached athletes to 815 All-NSIC awards. Throughout his career, he has overseen 54 All-America performances at both the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels.
In addition to his coaching duties, Jim has been an instructor of physical education at Northern. He has also served as the president of the NCAA Division II Cross Country Coaches Association. He is also heavily involved in the Dakotas Association Junior Olympic Championships in both cross country and track and field, serving as meet director for both events since 2007 and as a youth coach for the Aberdeen Area Running Club for the past four years.
Brenda’s coaching duties included all of the throwing events while serving as the head assistant coach for the entire track and field squad. She has coached 12 All-Americans in her 24 years, including overseeing the development of 5-time NCAA Division II All-American and 2-time national champion Amanda Madden.
During the last 24 years, NSU throwers have won 74 individual NSIC titles, including 17 discus titles, while at least one NSU thrower has won a shot put title in 19 of the last 24 years. That stretch includes a streak of nine straight women’s shot put titles during the indoor and outdoor seasons from 1995 to 1999.
In recognition of her accomplishments, Brenda was honored by her peers when she was named as the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009.
Northern State track and field teams have also excelled in the classroom. The women’s cross country and track and field teams have earned national academic team honors 17 consecutive years and together, the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs have earned the national honor 41 times.
“Without any question the most difficult part of leaving Northern State University will be leaving our team,” said Jim. “I don’t think the kids always realize that they truly become part of our family when they are on the team. Twenty-four years’ worth of student/athletes have helped raise our sons by being good role models and to each and every student-athlete that has been a part of our squad we are indebted.
“The people of Aberdeen have always been so supportive of our family. When Drew was born at the Mayo Clinic people from the community came together for us and helped defray some of Drew’s medical bills and more importantly prayed for both Drew and Brenda in the struggles they faced.
“The community of coaches here in Aberdeen has been so important to us over the years and that is not just the Northern State staff, but also the coaches at Aberdeen Central and Aberdeen Roncalli. We have been blessed with so many mentors to learn from – Dr. Kretchman, Bob Olson, Curt Fredrickson, Lisa Schriver, Coaches Swisher and Wachs. Each one of them has taught us something, having worked through the struggles that coaching presents over extended periods of time and I really respect them for that.”
Jim and Brenda are both graduates of Doane College in Crete, Neb. Jim also earned his master’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while serving as a graduate assistant with the Huskers. The two have been married for 27 years and have three sons, Aaron and Tyler (22) and Drew (6). Aaron is a senior captain for the Central College men’s track and field team, while Tyler is a senior at Simpson College (Iowa).