Student-Athlete Turned Coach Elected to the Hall

Leading up to the Friday, October 26 CMU Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, members of the Class of 2012 will be periodically featured with an article on Friday evening's event is free of charge and open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m. in McGuirk Arena.

Not only did Craig Fuller excel as a student-athlete at Central Michigan University, he did so as a coach as well.

An All-Mid-American Conference performer in both cross country and track as a Chippewa athlete in the late 1970s, Fuller went on to earn MAC Cross Country Coach of the Year honors four times during his 19 seasons as the head men's cross country coach at CMU.

The Chippewas won four MAC titles under Fuller and four times finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships.

"He was one of the best coaches out there," CMU Hall of Fame runner Richard Brinker said. "His style was not for everybody, but we knew if we followed him he would always set us up well for the MAC and national meets.

"The biggest thing I learned from him was having balance between running, school and family. When I got to school, my number one goal was to run but when I got my first term grades it was a slap in the face. He stressed the importance of maintaining balance in all those areas."

Fuller was known for a laid-back style and using various methods to motivate his athletes. When CMU hosted the MAC Championships at Riverwood Resort, Fuller swam back and forth across the Chippewa River in order to follow and motivate his athletes during the race.

"He would try anything," Brinker said. "One time he had Coach (Herb) Deromedi get us fired up for the MAC meet with his football-style pregame speech and another time he threw his personal camera through the air and sent it crashing to the ground to get a guy fired up. You never knew what to expect."

Brinker is one of Fuller's biggest success stories, going from a walk-on to a MAC cross country champion and three-time All-American.

But Brinker wasn't alone. Six times a CMU cross country runner earned All-America status under Fuller's tutelage and four times a Chippewa won the individual MAC cross country title. On the track, six of his distance runners captured All-America honors and he guided numerous MAC track champions, including two-time MAC Most Outstanding Performer Jeff Powers and MAC Most Valuable Performers Dave Ernsberger and Ryan Watson.

Team success was the norm as well with Fuller leading CMU to MAC cross country titles in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Each of those years he was named MAC Coach of the Year and in 2002 he also added Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year honors after CMU finished ninth overall at the NCAA Championships, the best showing in school history. The track teams captured three outdoor titles and one indoor championship while he was an assistant coach in charge of the distance runners.

"Team camaraderie was big for Coach and he led by example in that regard," Brinker said. "A lot of cross country coaches spend time just with the cross guys but coach wasn't like that. He always made sure everyone on the track and field team helped each other out and you would always see him hanging out with the throwers or other guys."

For all his accomplishments as a Chippewa, Fuller will be inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 26, in a ceremony at McGuirk Arena. The event is free and open to the public beginning at 7 p.m.

In addition, the induction class will be recognized at halftime of the CMU-Akron football game on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Currently, Craig is living in Manistee, Mich., where his is coaching his children on the track at Manistee High School and Manistee Middle School.  His family includes wife, Marian, and children Annie, Jody, Craig Jr. and Curtis.

Also being honored as part of the CMU Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are Allison Campbell (women's soccer; 2000-01), Carleton Kinkade (wrestling; 1984-88), Hope Robertshaw (softball, 1998-2001), David Webber (men's basketball; 1999-2002) and Kevin Young (baseball; 1992-94).

Don Helinski is a Hall of Fame committee member and former CMU Sports Information Director.


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