FULTON, Ill. — Jim Proud’s long and storied career as the Fulton High School Steamers football coach ended recently.

Proud will also be ending his tenure as the school’s athletic director and as a teacher when he retires at the end of the school year.

“This is my 34th year of teaching here, and I’ve coached for 32 of those years,” Proud said. “I was happy to have a job when it all started. This was my first teaching job. Before that I worked at (Goose Lake) Northeast as a study hall supervisor and coached girls 6-on-6 basketball.”

Proud has been Fulton’s head football coach since 1989 and had a one-year stint before that in 1983. He was an assistant coach for the other 13 years he was part of the program.

In his 19 years as head coach the Steamers compiled a mark of 139-79, including a 14-10 record in 11 playoff appearances.

Proud directed Fulton to a perfect 14-0 state championship season in 1991 and was an assistant on the Steamers’ 13-0 state title team in 1976.

“The two state championships were the big highlights of my coaching career, but there’s so many games that come to mind,” he said. “We had a triple-overtime game with Lewistown (a 41-40 win in the second round of the 1999 playoffs). The trips to Stillman Valley, even though we didn’t fare very well there. (Fulton’s season ended four times at Stillman Valley in the playoffs in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003, the first two times in the semifinals and the third in the quarterfinals).

“When I saw Jim Snyder run for the (still Class 2A playoff) record (363 yards) in 1976. That was amazing. A game at Monticello (the 1991 semifinal) when Benjy Grant blocked an extra point that gave us a 14-13 win. A playoff game in the snow with Galena. Those are all memories, but there’s so many. I think we figured it’s been over 300 games.

“Coaching my son (Nick) was one of my highlights. It was tough, because being the coach’s son is a tricky situation. But, I really enjoyed that. And now he’s coaching in Cedar Rapids. Another highlight is the amount of quality kids I’ve been associated with. Not having the contact with the kids and the coaching staff is going to be an adjustment.”

Proud is very pleased with the way his coaching career turned out.

“I’m extremely happy,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate. There are a lot of coaches that never get the chance to go to state. I was there twice. I’ve also worked with some great people. Coach (Dale) Giesler (who directed the football program from 1968 to 1982) was an excellent man.

“And, my current staff has made it so I could coach longer. Nick Crosthwaite and Derek Germann have been with me a long time. Pat Lower has done a great job for us. Jesse Abbott is a former player that came back to join the staff. Dave Curley is a volunteer that’s been an excellent find for us. And, Don Damhoff has been an important part of things. They probably extended my career.”

Proud, who now lives in Clinton, is prepared to step away from the football field.

“I’m ready to turn it over to another group of people,” he said. “Will I miss it next year? Yes, I probably will. But, I can go watch my son’s team play, and I’ll be watching Fulton too. I’m ready to go on and do something else, but I’ll still be around here.”

Proud isn’t sure what his retirement plans will involve.

“I’m just going to enjoy not going to work,” he joked. “I might find another job. I’m not sure yet what I’ll be doing.”

Proud would like to see a member of the current football staff follow him as head coach, saying, “I think I get to have an opinion, but it will be a committee decision.”

Proud grew up in Clinton and graduated from Clinton High School in 1967. He then went on to the University of Northern Iowa. He participated in multiple sports in high school and continued his football career at UNI.

His first coaching job at Fulton was as track coach.

“I had Steve Brondyke who was a state record holder for a number of years,” Proud said.

Proud summed up his coaching career, saying, “It’s been a great time. The fans and the community have been great to me. They’ve been very supportive. The tradition of Fulton football started with Dale Giesler. I just tried to continue on with it.”

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