Aug. 5—LARAMIE — Nick Fulton had established himself as a highly-regarded offensive coordinator at several NCAA Division II schools and one stop at a Football Championship Subdivision member.
He loved coaching quarterbacks and outwitting opposing defensive coordinators with the plays he crafted. Fulton even enjoyed building relationships with players, their families and high school coaches during the recruiting process.
As passionate as he was about those things, and as much pleasure as he drew from living out his dream of being a college football coach, Fulton didn't like how significantly they reduced his family time.
That's why he stepped down as Colorado Mesa's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in February 2021. At the time, he was looking for career opportunities outside of football. The time away from the game helped him reassess his professional aspirations and start looking for ways to stay connected to football, while also getting more time at home.
He found a role that brought him home in more ways than one when he took over as the University of Wyoming's director of football operations.
"It's been a really smooth transition," said Fulton, who graduated from Laramie High in 1999. "It's been a great fit for me and my family. I'm not on the road recruiting, and I've been able to spend more time with my young daughters and wife.
"Not having the stress and amount of work that comes with being an offensive coordinator has been huge for me."
The 41-year-old and his wife, Becki, have 3-year-old and 5-month-old daughters. Fulton's new job still carries a great deal of stress. He has a number of administrative responsibilities, including planning team travel, monitoring the football program's budget, working with academic staff and overseeing team functions.
There is a lot on Fulton's plate, but you'll never hear him complain or compare his workload to others.
"Until you've sat in the offensive or defensive coordinator's seat, you have no idea how stressful that can be," Fulton said. "I've done it, so I know. This has been a lot of work and vastly different than being an on-the-field coach who also spends so much time recruiting."
Fulton grew up in Laramie, and was part of the Plainsmen team that went 9-1 and finished as state runners-up in 1998. From there, he played and coached at the University of Sioux Falls. Coaching took him to Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, and back to Laramie for two seasons as a graduate assistant at UW. He also had stints as the offensive coordinator at Black Hills State (2012-14), Colorado School of Mines (2015-18), Northern Colorado (2019), Colorado Mesa (2020).
Fulton relies on a lot of the skills he honed as a player and coach to do his new job. He prepares the best he can, but knows that he has to be able to adapt on the fly based on the situation presented.
"When you're coaching, especially as a coordinator, you have to be able to make decisions," he said. "A lot of people don't want to make decisions. You have to be willing to make a decision and live with it right, wrong or indifferent.
"A big component of this is working with our players, making sure they have what they need, and that they're where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there."
Fulton said he feels like he can be a thread that strings several eras of Cowboys football together. He built relationships with legendary players like Dabby Dawson, who he considers a mentor. Laramie High teammate Casey Adams was a defensive lineman for UW, and Fulton's two seasons as a graduate assistant bonded him with another generation of Pokes.
"I've seen a wide spectrum of this program, so being here and being a part of it again really means a lot to me," he said. "Doing things right, representing this program, this university and this community the right way means a great deal to me."
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.