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High school athletics: Fuller assumes ECISD's reins - Odessa American: Sports

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High school athletics: Fuller assumes ECISD's reins

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2007 12:00 am

Just about the time Leon Fuller felt like he was finding his groove as a high school athletic director, the lure of free time seemed to be a pretty enticing option.

Now he’s glad to have a second chance about that decision in Odessa.

Fuller took over Monday as the ECISD’s executive director of athletics and spoke to the media Wednesday about his background and new job.

“A lot of people have asked me, ‘Well, why after you retired are you going to go back into it,’ and that’s a really a good question,” Fuller said. “The only thing I can say is I reached a point where I thought maybe it was time to retire, but I don’t think I’m really ready to do that right now.”

Fuller coached football mostly at the collegiate level for more than 30 years — with a little time at the high school and professional level sprinkled in — before becoming athletic director of the Austin ISD in 1996.

He served in that capacity for eight years, overseeing that district’s 11 high schools and 17 junior highs, before retiring after the 2003-04 school year.

Since then, there’s been plenty of golf around Central Texas sprinkled in with appearances as a football clinician, but Fuller said he really got an itch during the last year to look for another job.

“I still have such a strong interest to be involved,” Fuller said. “I’d say maybe I feel younger than I am and that may be one of the reasons (to come out of retirement). I enjoyed my time going out to coaching clinics and being with coaches, so I thought I might as well get in if I can find a place that fits.”

The ECISD’s job came open in January when Gary Gaines left after two years for a similar job with the Lubbock ISD. Fuller was not an original applicant for the job more than four months after Gaines left, but he was interviewed in early June and approved June 19 by the ECISD board of trustees.

Fuller was recommended for the position by former superintendent Wendell Sollis, whose contract was bought out by the ECISD board earlier this month.

Hector Mendez was named temporary interim superintendent last week and met with Fuller on Monday when he reported to work.

“We had a good visit and I really like him and he’s a great individual,” Mendez said. “I think he will do a great job for the Ector County Independent School District. He has a wealth of experience.”

Mendez attended Fuller’s news conference Wednesday at the ECISD board room along with a small gathering that included Permian football coach Darren Allman, Permian principal Bruce Davis and ECISD trustee Randy Rives. Davis played at West Texas State when Fuller was an assistant coach there in the 1970s.

Fuller had just returned to Odessa for the news conference after attending a meeting of District 3-5A athletic directors in Big Spring and said he is looking forward to getting up to speed on the needs of ECISD athletics.

“I’d like to talk to the coaches and get some feedback from them and where they think we need to be going,” Fuller said. “They’ve been here and been involved with the programs and they can give you some good feedback on what things we want to start right away with and what things we’re going to put on a longer-term scale.”

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