Jabo Fulghum named baseball Coach of the Year
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 20, 2009 11:16 PM
Jabo Fulghum, long before the team's season opener in Cary, knew he had a talented -- and special -- group of young baseball players.
Little did he know they'd take him on a magical ride.
The Warriors compiled a program-best 26 wins under Fulghum's guidance and earned a berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A state championship series. It was the program's first trip to the finals since 1986 and just the third appearance overall in program history.
Eastern Wayne repeated as the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season champion and won its first-ever ECC tourney crown. And, that's not to mention an 18-0 record at home this season.
Fulghum certainly reaped the fruits of his team's labors and is the 2009 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year. Fulghum has won the award for the second straight season.
The Warriors captured the first two playoff victories in Fulghum's tenure with the program during the 2008 season. Eastern Wayne returned the core of its squad from a season ago and Fulghum sensed the potential for great things from his club.
"Sometimes you have years where things don't click and everything clicked this year," said Fulghum. "It seemed like it all worked out. There was a big progression from the beginning to the end and I knew we had what it took. It was just a matter of working hard and getting some breaks along the way and it was a great ride."
Fulghum had the privilege of coaching a team that was not only willing to work hard, but wanted to put in the effort necessary to achieve its goals. Long hours on the practice field after school and on weekends paid dividends for the Warriors.
"This team wanted to practice," said Fulghum. "There weren't many Saturdays that we took off. When I walked on the field or as soon as they walked out there it was the same routine everyday. They had a goal and they knew what it took to get there.
"Everyday they started practice by going to touch that state championship sign from '86."
As Eastern Wayne began its march through the state playoffs, it displayed a flair for the dramatic and the belief that it was never out of a ballgame. "Elmer's Glue" became a rallying cry for Fulghum's team as he preached belief in another.
The "Cardiac Kids" came from behind to win in five of their eight postseason victories leading up to the state finals.
"He's a great, great motivator," said Warriors third baseman John Wooten said. "You don't work hard just because you want to work hard, you work hard because you don't want to let them down."
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