After a successful career as the Harding Academy Wildcats baseball coach, Shane Fullerton is now the associate athletic director for the Searcy private school.
Fullerton coached the Wildcats to eight conference championships, seven district tournament titles, five regional titles and three state championships in nine full seasons as head coach. His 10th season, the 2020 season, was cut short because of COVID-19. Fullerton previously served as head coach of the Harding Bisons baseball team.
Fullerton will remain as an assistant coach to new head coach Alex Smith, who was previously a graduate assistant for the Harding Bisons basketball team as well as Fullerton’s assistant the past few seasons.
“I’ve been so blessed with hard-working, talented young student-athletes,” Fullerton said. “I believe their character has been the pillar of our baseball, and I believe, and athletic program. Their parents support them and maintain high expectations for them, like we do. Having said that, this coaching staff at Harding Academy is so high quality and the work ethic they show helps push every program to achieve more.”
Fullerton said Smith will do a great job leading the Wildcats baseball team.
“He’s a knowledgeable, baseball man, will work very hard and will love our kids and push them with equal intensity,” Fullerton said. “This is a great place to work, working toward success, especially when you consider that every one of these young men and women hold the eternity of our kids as their greatest goal.”
Fullerton said becoming athletic director at Harding Academy is a career goal for him. Harding Academy Superintendent James Simmons is also the athletic director.
“Shane has done a superb job for us as a teacher, as a coach; he’s great with young people,” Simmons said. “He really challenges them and helps them to understand what they are working on, whether it’s speech class, Bible class, baseball coaching or whatever it is. He’s been phenomenal for us. He’s been a good addition.”
Simmons said Fullerton has done a good job of helping him with the athletic department duties because of COVID-related issues.
“I had to have someone to try to step up and help me,” Simmons said. “I approached Shane about that. He has done a fantastic job stepping up, helping me deal with all the issues related to COVID.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more than what he has given me.”
Smith said he’s excited to continue to work with Fullerton with the roles reversed.
“Our first season together was 2015,” Smith said. “I had known him a little bit before that because he was the head coach at Harding Academy, and I was a graduate assistant at Harding University. I could just tell that he would be somebody that I would really want to work for and get to learn from to pick up on what has made him successful.
“I had seen his teams compete in the past, and I knew that would be somebody I would want to work for.”
Fullerton said he came to Harding University as a freshman in 1989.
“My mom was a P.E. teacher and my dad was a highly-respected coach in southeast Missouri for 30 years,” he said. “They taught me the value of athletics in our schools, and more than that, how athletics can be an avenue to changing the lives of young people.”
Fullerton and his wife, Jama, have J.Paul, Pate, Kloey and Broc.
“Coaching my sons has been one of the joys of my life” Fullerton said. “Right now, I’m helping with Broc’s 8-year-old USSSA team. A big part of me would have loved being the head coach through his senior year, but spending time with him now can’t be replaced.”
Fullerton said he loved coaching J. Paul and Pate in high school.
“I absolutely loved playing basketball and baseball for my dad in high school, and I loved coaching J. Paul and Pate even more, if that’s possible,” Fullerton said. “It’s hard to be a coach’s kid, and I know that even though I don’t coach her, Kloey feels that pressure too.
“I’m so proud of all of them and the way our relationships have given them too. I’m just thankful that God has allowed me to share the games we love with my children and so many other kids that I have gotten to love like they’re my own. I guess every meal that’s ever been on my family table, God has allowed us to use athletics to help pay for. We are so thankful.”