Coach Jim Hulsman

by Mike Magers

Longtime basketball coach Jim Hulsman is a product of New Mexico. His parents moved to the state in 1940 from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania for his father’s health when Jim was just 10. Jim attended elementary and junior high school in Albuquerque and high school at Albuquerque High School. Albuquerque High was a three year school at the time and Jim lettered in both track and football. Jim also played American Legion baseball and city league basketball. Jim graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1949.

Jim then served in the military during the Korean era, enlisting in the US Air Force.  Hulsman relates that the US Army needed pilots and Jim qualified for a program that allowed him to qualify for Officer Candidate School and pilot training because of his Air Force service.  Jim earned his Second Lieutenant bars before the war ended in 1952.

Resuming his education, Hulsman enrolled at St. Joseph College on the Rio Grande (later known as the University of Albuquerque), a Catholic school located at what is now the campus St. Pius X High School.  Jim lettered in basketball St. Joseph in 1955 and 1956 despite not having played basketball at Albuquerque High School.  He later transferred to University of New Mexico because it offered a degree in health and physical education and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1959.

While still a college student, Jim served as track and cross country coach and an assistant coach in football and basketball at Highlands High and Albuquerque High.  He then served as an assistant football coach from 1961 to 1968 at his alma mater, after which he took over as head basketball coach at Albuquerque High School, a position at which he was to remain for the next 42 years.

His second season as head coach, his Albuquerque Bulldog team made it to the state championship for the first time since 1946, losing to Ralph Tasker’s Hobbs High School squad 123-90.  Coach Hulsman remarked that the Hobbs full court press was a tremendous factor in the Eagles’ win.  The two teams met again in 1971 with the Bulldogs prevailing 81-80 in a game that drew 10,000 fans to the UNM arena.

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Coach Hulsman went on to achieve a career record of earning 660 wins, making 24 state championship tournament appearances and winning 7 state championships.  During his tenure, AHS would achieve 23 consecutive winning seasons (1969-1991).   72 of his players went on to play college basketball, including Kenny Thomas who also played at University of New Mexico and for 12 seasons in the NBA.

During their long careers, Coach Hulsman and Coach Ralph Tasker led teams that were always two of the premier programs in the state.  They met 12 times in state championship brackets and three times in the title games with AHS winning 7 of the 12 post season meetings while Hobbs had a 2-1 edge in the championship matches.

Jim also has been involved in amateur and semi-pro baseball much of his career.  He managed the Rio Grande Lumber Company team of the National Baseball Congress  to back-to-back New Mexico Semi-Pro Championships in 1955 and 1956.  In 1958, he managed the squad to a 24-8 record and the Albuquerque City Championship.  In 1959 and 1960, Jim managed the Albuquerque Highland High School American Legion baseball team to tournament and league championships.  He was a manager in the Ken Boyers Missouri Baseball Camp and under the direction of Territorial Scout Supervisor Bobby Goff and served as a scout for the Cleveland Indians for 8 years.

Coach Hulsman has received numerous awards and honors over the years.  He coached in the Denver/Albuquerque All-Star game in 1974 and the North/South All Star Game sponsored by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association in 1975.  In 1988 he was chosen to coach in the 11th annual McDonalds All-American High School Basketball Game.   In 1985 and 1989, Jim was Region Eight Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.  He was named Coach of the Year at least 15 times by sportscasters and sportswriters in New Mexico.  In 1983 and 1989 he received the Special Recognition Award from the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame.  In 2003, Jim was honored by his induction into the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) Hall of Fame.

Jim currently is retired and living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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