Fuller out as WHS volleyball coach

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Whitefish coach Jackie Fuller gives a high-five to Serena Hemmingson during the 2016 season. Fuller announced she has resigned as Bulldogs head coach after the opening week of the season. (Jeff Doorn photo)

Jackie Fuller has resigned as head volleyball coach at Whitefish High School.

Fuller informed Whitefish High School Activities Director Aric Harris of her decision Monday evening.

Fuller had met with team members earlier that day, which led to her decision to step down.

Fuller is also an assistant principal at Whitefish Middle School.

“Three individuals (seniors) who did not like my coaching style wanted me compromise with them, the team and everybody else I guess,” Fuller said.

“They wanted me to be kinder, wanted me not to yell so much, talk to them one-on-one after they messed up instead of in front of the whole team. They wanted me to change as a coach, leader and a person and I can’t do that.”

This was Fuller’s second stint with the volleyball program and she was in her third season. The Bulldogs had a successful go at the Frenchtown Invitational last weekend, posting the second best record in pool play and winning the second-place match.

On her first and second seasons back with the Bulldogs, the team advanced to state after a three-year absence.

On her first tour of duty at WHS, which ended in 2011, Whitefish won a total of five state championships (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). The 2007 team finished second and the 2000 squad came in third.

Whitefish posted 20-win seasons eight times, went 26-1 in 2002, 22-2 in 2006 and 25-2 in 2005, and finished below .500 just three times in her first 18 seasons at the school. The Bulldogs went 14-4 and advanced to state her final season.

Whitefish made 15 state tournament appearances with Fuller.

She was named Class A volleyball coach of the year in Montana five times, all at Whitefish, and once when Shelby won the state Class B championship in 1988 (34-6).

“I feel bad for (assistant coach) Lucy (McFadden) and Breanne Kelley, a young (assistant) coach just coming in and she has to experience this,” Fuller said.

“Lucy and I have been together 28 or 29 years. I’m so proud of her for staying in there right now.

“I feel bad what has happened for Aric Harris and Kerry Drown (principal). They have supported me, have believed in me, have appreciated what I have done. But in the end, I have to be who I am and that’s who they hired — me.”

Fuller, who is very passionate about Whitefish and her school, said the decision has ripped her heart out.

“Some of the parents were unhappy with me last year,” she said, “and I should have saw the writing on the wall and I didn’t.

“I told Aric on Monday I’ll coach just like I always do with intensity, passion and drive.”

Whitefish opens league play tonight hosting Libby. Varsity action begins at 7:15 p.m.

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