Fullerton learned to play hockey at Beverly High School (class of '26) prior to attending Norwich University (class of '30) in Northfield, Vermont where he lettered in both football and hockey with a 2.71 goals against average over four years and senior year captain. The following year (1930/'31) he coached the Norwich Cadets prior to passing on a tendered offer by Boston Bruins in order to accept a teaching/coaching position at Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York. Jim won an enviable 86% of his games with four undefeated seasons during his tenure from 1931 through 1955. He is credited with founding the first prep school invitational hockey tournament in the late 1930s. From the Olympic Village Fullerton officiated collegiate and professional games for 20 years while serving as AAU Ice Officials, VP New England Chapter.
In 1955 Brown University hired Fullerton as their first full-time hockey coach where he remained for 15 seasons, retiring in 1970. With just 2 ice rinks in Rhode Island and Brown having none, the challenge was great to be competitive and the 1960/'61 season closed with an 0-21 record. Meehan Auditorium opened in late 1961 and with the 1964/'65 team, Brown's and its coach's fortunes changed with a 21-9 record and slot in the Frozen Four tournament hosted by Brown. His overall Brown record was 184-168-9. Three players achieved All-America status while the coach was a four-time recipient of New England Coach of The Year and the Spencer Penrose Division One Coach of The Year in 1965.
Fullerton was considered an innovator with many crediting him with developing defensive plays such as the "Box", "Triangle" and one-two-one "Diamond" tactics. He had a game strategy for each opponent that kept his teams competitive even when short on depth and talent. Fullerton hired the first female assistant coach (Laura Strumm) to teach power skating and in 1964 had a Brown co-ed (Nancy Schieffelin) suit up and practice with the men. Nancy was an organizer for the Panda Bears, the first recognized American college women's hockey team (1965).
Following retirement in 1970, Fullerton remained active with summer youth hockey camps, coaching US entry in the FIS World University Games (Lake Placid, NY). He also worked as a college scout for the New York Islanders (1972-'77) and the Chicago Black Hawks ('77-'78). In 1978, Hastings House Publishing Co. printed and marketed 8,000 copies of Fullerton's book Ice hockey: Playing and Coaching.
A driving force behind the American Hockey Coaches Association from his arrival at Brown, presiding over the organization in 1967-'69, Fullerton received the AHCA Founders Award in 1989 and the "Jim Fullerton Award" is presented annually to recognize an individual who loves the purity of the game. Both Brown ('74) and Norwich ('84) Athletic Halls of Fame have inducted Fullerton. In 1989 he received the Hobey Baker Legends of College Hockey Award, and Northwood School's Wall of Fame is in his recognition. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame honored Fullerton along with his good friends and peers, Len Ceglarski and Amo Bessone, as enshrinees in 1992.
Jim Fullerton died March 3, 1991 where beside his wife, Frances, he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery based on his 30+ years of active and reserve U.S. Army officer status.
|Brown Bears (Division I Independent) (1955–56–1960–61)|
|Brown Bears (ECAC Hockey) (1961-62–1969-70)|
|1964-65||Brown||21-9-0||16-6-0||4th||NCAA Consolation Game (Loss)|
|1965-66||Brown||16-9-0||12-6-0||4th||ECAC Third Place Game (Loss)|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
|Awards and achievements|
|Spencer Penrose Award