10/22/10 9:00 AM
By Jackie Branca
It’s hard to imagine standing in net anxiously awaiting a 100mph shot that could come at any point. Then again, that might seem easy if your other job is to coordinate military artillery. Adam Fullerton, a First Lieutenant in the Army and a Major League Lacrosse goalie, does both of these heart-racing jobs.
Year-round, Fullerton, a 2008 graduate of West Point is a fire support officer. His main duties include coordinating airspace to make sure the weapons being fired don’t hit any of their own planes or helicopters and reach the intended target.
“I’m an artillery officer, and there are different variations of all these types of weapon systems but the main focus is to coordinate air space,” Fullerton said. “Obviously in the military we have helicopters and all different kinds of stuff going around in the air. So my job is to, when we do have assets in the air, any sort of aircraft, and we want to shoot artillery, someone needs to de-conflict that and make sure we’re not going to shoot our own guys.”
So, while many MLL players spend the offseason running camps and training for the season, the Outlaws’ back-up goalie, stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, is at work by 6:00 a.m. ready to train, for the military.
“I know our whole team respects Adam, not just for his service to our country, but for the teammate he is,” Outlaw’s head coach Brian Reese said. “Most players have another job outside of playing lacrosse but Adam’s is a little and special.”
Fullerton’s interest in West Point began when he started looking at schools to try and play lacrosse in college. When asked what made him decide on Army he said, “It kind of came up because my twin brother [Patrick] and I had looked to play lacrosse there. We took some visits and began to get some interest in the place. After going up for a prospect day and an official visit I realized it was a pretty good opportunity and we decided to go there.”
Once at Army, Fullerton established himself as a leader and continued to make his mark on the team and the Academy. Army head coach Joe Alberici had high praises of Fullerton, whom he coached for three years.
“Adam just got better each year, he was constantly improving. I just don’t think there was another guy that meant more to his program than Adam did to ours,” Alberici said. “He was tremendous in the goal, but the things on the field were almost secondary for what he was doing for us off the field even to this point today, the young guys think of Adam as one of the great leaders that they had been around, he was just a tremendous captain.”
For Fullerton, the opportunity to play in the MLL was, in his mind a long shot. “I always thought it would be something awesome but I never thought I would have the chance to ability wise, and with my current job. I just didn’t think it would ever happen.”
Even once Fullerton was invited to the draft, he says things started to seem more realistic but he still had trouble believing he would ever play in the MLL. Despite Fullerton’s disbelief, Rochester chose Fullerton with the 28th pick in the 2008 draft.
“Fortunately they took a chance on me and it put me in the league and sometimes that’s half the battle,” Fullerton said of seizing the opportunity. “Once you’re in the league you just gotta prove yourself.”
After being drafted by Rochester, Fullerton was picked up by Denver before the 2009 season.
“Adam has very quick hands and is really good out of the cage intercepting passes or clearing the ball himself,” Coach Reese said of Fullerton’s play. “He can play a different style and is quick enough to play straight up and react to shots. You just never know where he is going to be in the cage sometimes and that can mess with shooter’s heads.”
Not only has Fullerton proven himself within the league, but nationally as well. He was selected as one of the goalies on the US National team that recently won gold at the World Lacrosse Championship. As one of the eight goalies invited to try out for the team, Fullerton again had to prove he belonged with some of the biggest names in lacrosse.
“Once again, I didn’t think I really had a chance of ever making the team but I was given the opportunity to go try out and that’s all it is, once you get your chance you just gotta prove that you can play,” Fullerton said. “It was an incredible experience. What an honor to play for team USA.”
“He was just tremendous. He stood out and was deserving of being in that final 3 and very deserving of being one of the US team goalies,” coach Alberici said, also an assistant coach for the US team. “There were a lot of great goalies that didn’t get a tryout and certainly a lot of great goalies that didn’t make the team. In the coaches’ eyes as well as the evaluators’, Adam’s play was doing all the talking for him.
Although Fullerton doesn’t get many opportunities to play lacrosse in the offseason, he knows he doesn’t have to worry about his conditioning, as training is part of his job description.
“We train nonstop military wise so staying in shape isn’t an issue in the military,” Fullerton said. “I don’t get a ton of opportunities to train specific to lacrosse. But, I try to play in as many club games or pickup games that I can and just see shots; it’s real tough in the off season for me to see quality shots and get good repetitions.”
Not only does Fullerton’s job make it difficult to train in the offseason, but sometimes his two passions overlap. During the season he has had to miss games in order to attend work. Fullerton says he knows his job comes first but that it can be difficult to have to miss games.
“Lacrosse is what I love to do so when I have to miss it, it’s not easy to swallow,” said Fullerton. “You got to have your priorities straight and I did miss a game or two this past season just because of work and training. As far as the schedules go, you’re kind of flying by the seat of your pants and hoping each weekend works out.”
“When he gets his orders, he has to go, so lacrosse can get put on the back burner pretty quickly,” Coach Reese said. “But when he is on the field, he is completely focused and committed to the team. It’s been great having a person of Adam’s character on the Outlaws.”