Kristen Fulmer not only played basketball, she studied it.
From her four years at Lakewood Ranch High to her four years at Lenoir-Rhyne in High Point, North Carolina, and everywhere in between, Fulmer tried to get the most out of her ability and absorb the most from the people who were coaching her.
“I’ve played under some pretty great coaches, even in high school,” Fulmer said.
From Chuck Martin during her playing days with the Mustangs to Todd Starkey at Lenoir-Rhyne to Ralph Bryant at the Police Athletic League to current Mustangs coach Tina Hadley in AAU and Matt Nesser, who she assisted at summer camp, Fulmer was a sponge.
Now, she is getting a chance to share that knowledge on the high school level.
Braden River High named Fulmer as its new girls basketball coach. She replaces Carl Williams, who moved to Riverview High.
Fulmer said she “always” wanted to coach.
“It’s just a way to stay in the game,” she said. “And the high school level is a great level to do it at.”
A forward/center at Lakewood Ranch, Fulmer amassed more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her high school career, also owning the record for points in a game with 34 as a junior against Port Charlotte.
Her coaching philosophy will reflect on other aspects besides scoring.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the hustle skills: defense and rebounding,” Fulmer said. “Even if you are not as talented as the other team, you can win a lot of basketball games playing defense and rebounding.”
She has met the returning players through open gyms. The Pirates, who finished 6-20 a year ago, have two returners: seniors Michaela Hostetler and Nesreen Ghnaim.
“Other than that, it’s a pretty young team,” Fulmer said. “It’s going to be a rebuilding year, for sure. Watching them, I know they have the tools. It’s about learning how to use them, and believing we can do it.”
Entering college during Starkey’s first season at Lenoir-Rhyne, Fulmer watched him grow as a coach during her four years there.
Now the 26-year-old Fulmer will be growing with her own team.
“It’s all new to me too,” she said. “Just as the girls have to get used to my system, I have to get used to the high school system and the new position and all the aspects of the coaching job, not only on the court, but off the court as well.”