AURORA | A longtime staple of Aurora’s track coaching community died last week when Fritz Fulton lost his battle with cancer.
The 55-year-old Fulton spent the last three years coaching the hurdlers for coach Chris Carhart’s Rangeview team, a time during which he was diagnosed with colon cancer that eventually spread to his liver. He agreed to come over to Eaglecrest when Carhart got the job there last summer and worked with the Raptors in the offseason through winter break.
Fulton’s health deteriorated in late December and early January and Carhart — who got to know him when he was coaching at Hinkley and Fulton was the head coach at Aurora Central in the mid 2000s and developed a deep friendship — talked with Fulton about setting up a scholarship in his honor before he died.
“Myself and a number of kids went to see him last Tuesday and a little bit on Wednesday and we had a nice visit and talked about the scholarship,” Carhart said. “All he wanted to talk about was the team and how he was sorry he was not going to be at practice. He was a coach to his core. …He coached every single kid like he was getting them ready for the Olympics.”
Carhart ordered wristbands that say “Fulton Strong” in the green of Fulton’s beloved Colorado State and began raising funds for the EHS Fritz Fulton Memorial Scholarship, which is run through the Cherry Creek Schools and plans to award a senior on the team each year with a $1,000 scholarship that will renew for four years.
Fulton was a big golfer and a golf tournament to raise money for the scholarship is in the works. To donate to the scholarship, click here.
Services for Fulton are scheduled for 4 p.m. March 4 at the Parker Arts Center.
Fulton, a state champion hurdler himself while at Fort Collins High School in the 1980s, taught physical education at Columbia Middle School in the APS system and lived in Parker. He and his wife had three kids who attended Ponderosa High School. Son John is currently on the track team at his alma mater, Colorado State.
THURSDAY, FEB. 10: Ken Shaw has put in 47 years on the sidelines of five boys basketball programs around Colorado as a head coach and piled up 800 wins, a milestone he reached when his Regis Jesuit team turned it up in the second half to deliver a 55-36 Continental League victory. Shaw reflected on the achievement with the Sentinel here. …Tom Thenell, who transformed the Smoky Hill football program over the past four seasons, met with players to inform him that he was leaving to become the new offensive coordinator at Colorado Mesa University. Thenell guided the Buffaloes to 28 wins over four years, two Metro 10 championships and three Class 5A state playoffs appearances. More on Thenell’s departure, here. …Former Aurora Public Schools diver Isaiah Cheeks won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship in 1-meter diving at the meet held at the El Pomar Natatorium in Grand Junction. Cheeks — who competes for Colorado Mesa University — rakced up a score of 514.35 points to outdistance teammate Noah Luna. Cheeks, who attended Rangeview and was part of the APS co-op boys team, finished seventh at the Class 5A state meet as a senior in 2018.
SUNDAY, FEB. 5: The Miami Dolphins announced Sunday they had chosen Smoky Hill High School graduate Michael McDaniel to fill their open job.
The 38-year-old McDaniel served as the offensive coordinator for San Francisco this past season, a unit that helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Super Bowl-bound Los Angeles Rams.
McDaniel graduated from Smoky Hill in 2001, went on to play at Yale University as a wide receiver and then got into the professional coaching ranks, where he has accrued more than a decade of experience. He served as an intern with the Denver Broncos under former coach Gary Kubiak.
“Mike is awesome,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo told the Associated Press last month. “He really is. He’s kind of that, I don’t want to say the mastermind behind everything, but he’s kind of that guy in the background that doesn’t say a whole ton to a lot of people, but his mind is always moving. The ideas that he comes up with are so fresh and new that it’s a cool guy to have on the staff. …
“He’s a lot smarter than most of us. So he dumbs it down for us and kind of gets us all on the same page.”
The hire of McDaniel is also notable because he is biracial, making him the first minority candidate to be hired for one of a slew of open jobs around the NFL this season.
Before Smoky Hill, McDaniel attended Laredo Middle School, which is also where 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan went (he later attended Cherry Creek High School) as did Ryan Ficken, who was recently hired as the Special Teams Coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Ficken has coached in the NFL for 15 years — all with the Minnesota Vikings — in a variety of capacities, most recently as special teams coach, but has now been added to the staff of Brandon Staley with the Chargers. Ficken also was an assistant at the college level at UCLA.
McDaniel’s hiring also comes shortly after the Broncos tabbed Regis Jesuit High School graduate Klint Kubiak as their passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes