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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
NEW PORT RICHEY - Jay Fulmer repeatedly asked the same question while interviewing for Gulf's football job.
"If you play Gulf High School, you've got to be ready for (blank)?"
When administrators couldn't give him an answer, Fulmer provided one.
"When you play Gulf High School from here on out, you better be able to stop the running game and better come to hit," Fulmer said, "because if you don't, you're going to leave in bad shape."
Gulf hopes its long-struggling program will be in better shape with the addition of Fulmer, tabbed Friday as the Bucs' next coach. Fulmer, 37, of Brooks, Ky., replaces Keith Newton, who was fired in November.
Athletic director Paul Girardi said Fulmer's energy set him apart from 42 other candidates, including finalists James Burant of Panama City Beach and Danny Adams of Winfield, Ala.
"It was just, speaking with him and when you met him, he has that aura," Girardi said.
The search committee of principal Thomas Imerson, assistant principal for administration Thomas Brochu and Girardi made the decision early in the week and spent the past few days working to find a teaching position for Fulmer, Girardi said.
Fulmer, a physical education teacher at Louisville Moore, will work in Gulf's Exceptional Student Education program starting March 1 and teach physical education next year. He'll also serve as boys weightlifting coach.
High school football coaches in Pasco County earned a supplement of $4,059 during the 2004 school year.
Fulmer's family has vacationed in Florida, and he began searching the FHSAA Web site for openings about three years ago. He turned down the Fort Myers job when the money wasn't enough to make the move feasible.
After researching the situation at Gulf, he decided the money and facilities, including refurbished locker and weight rooms, were worth relocating.
"Without administrative support and support from the athletic director, you have no chance of winning," Fulmer said. "But they've showed they're willing to put dollars into it and go after a guy as hungry as they are."
Despite a 45-61 record in 10 seasons as head coach, Fulmer appears capable of overhauling a program that went 20-69 in Newton's nine seasons, including 2-7 last year.
Fulmer was the winningest coach at Moore, which he led to three consecutive winning seasons for the first time in school history and took to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons in 2002. At Louisville Seneca, his teams made back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 10 years in 1995-96.
"He plans on winning immediately," Girardi said. "He's not coming here with the idea that .500 is a goal. It's not a goal as far as he is concerned."
Though Fulmer's living conditions are temporary - he plans to live out of his camper until the end of the semester - he sees the 13-hour move as permanent.
"I plan on being at Gulf until that job is complete," Fulmer said. "However long that takes."