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While it appears Bellmont High School may be on the verge of hiring a new football coach to replace the recently resigned Rick Burkhalter, it was learned Thursday that another major sport coach has resigned.
Bellmont girls varsity basketball coach Tory Fuelling has confirmed he has submitted his resignation as coach to athletic director Dale Manis noting "I've been doing this (coaching girls basketball) for 11 years, seven as an assistant and four as head coach. It's time now to take a look at doing something else."
Unlike Burkhalter and recently resigned varsity boys basketball coach Larry Patterson, who were both lay coaches at Bellmont, Fuelling was on the staff at the high school as the director of the in-school suspension program. He has now obtained his degree to become a school guidance counselor and said he will be looking at various school systems around the area to see if he might find a position that is more in line with his degree.
On the football front, Bellmont Principal Scot Croner is recommending to Superintendent Wylie Sirk that North Adams hire Nate Andrews as the new head football coach.
If the deal goes though and the North Adams School Board approves Andrews, "Bellmont will be getting an outstanding coach who has just the approach that we were looking for. He's a high-quality guy," stated Croner.
Andrews has been the head coach at Lapel for the past four years and has compiled a 25-20 record. In 2008, Andrews guided Lapel to a 1A sectional title, just the second one in school history. The other came in 1995.
Andrews was also the wrestling coach at Lapel. The team had five wrestlers when he came to the school and he built that up to 30. Croner is hopeful that Andrews will be able to build the Bellmont football numbers, which have been low for many years, even going back to the 2008 state 3A championship team.
Andrews, the 1996 state wrestling champion at 171 pounds, excels in weight training and conditioning, and Croner feels that we will be of help to all the sports at Bellmont. Andrews is a physical education teacher, who may eventually be used in other areas.
Croner checked out Andrews' credentials carefully and plenty or respondents were very positive on his performance, approach and demeanor.
Andrews played four years of football at Ball State after an All-State career at NorthWood High School.
Fuelling added that if he is unable to find a counselor's position, he would be content to remain at Bellmont in his current staff position but would not be coaching basketball.
"I think the program is headed in the right direction but we need to get more girls involved," he said, adding he believed the new coach should be someone who is "passionate" about coaching basketball and can get more girls involved. Bellmont was unable to field a girls freshman team and turnout in the middle school level throughout the North Adams district was at an all-time low.
Fuelling called a meeting of the girls basketball team Thursday to inform them of his decision and he said "most of them were surprised about the news. I think they understood my position and had some questions like who the new coach would be and things like that but that's not up to me."
He said Bellmont has a successful girls sports program with two state championships in volleyball in the past four years and a strong softball program. He said he would like to see the Bellmont girls basketball team to be part of that successful program as well.
He said he recently had a year-end review about girls basketball with Manis and everything was positive.
"I told Dale I was sorry about this but wanted to give them plenty of time to find someone to take the position. Plus I knew there were some teaching openings coming up so I thought it would be better to do this now," Fuelling said.
A Bellmont graduate, Fuelling accumulated a record of 41-46 in four years as the head coach at Bellmont.
"I've been thinking about this for a while (resigning as basketball coach) and talked with my family and others about it. I just thought it was time to go in another direction," he concluded.