‘Bulldogs United’ tells uplifting story after devastating moment

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

'Bulldogs United' documentary

Former Everman High School athlete Corey Fulbright (left) and former Burnet High School football player Austin Chittim met in early September during preproduction of the documentary “Bulldogs United.” The film, produced and directed by Chittim, updates Fulbright’s story after he suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury in the 2002 state championship game between Everman and Burnet. Courtesy photo

The image of Everman High School defensive back Corey Fulbright lying motionless on the Alamodome turf has stayed with fans who attended the Burnet-Everman state championship game in November 2002.

During Everman’s 35-14 win over Burnet in the Class 3A Division I final, Fulbright made a hit that damaged his spinal cord and put him in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down.

“Watching him lay there for forty-five minutes was heartbreaking,” former Burnet player Austin Chittim said. “(Everman) rallied behind him.”

Almost two decades later, Chittim is updating Fulbright’s story in a documentary he’s producing called “Bulldogs United,” named after the shared mascot of both schools.

“Bulldogs United” always has been a rallying call for Burnet and Everman as evidenced by the Burnet fundraiser held weeks after the game to benefit Fulbright. The goal was to buy him and his family a house.

“The two towns have been united for Corey ever since,” Chittim said.

Chittim and his crew shot video and interviewed Fulbright and his family September 6-7 of this year. He said Fulbright continues to inspire and encourage others.

“He says it’s his faith in God,” Chittim explained. “He has great people in his corner. How he keeps that positive spirit? It’s our choice how we react to it.”

Chittim was a senior on the 2002 Burnet squad and saw a lot of playing time, though he was “never the biggest, fastest, or strongest guy.”

“We had a great team,” he said. “It was quite the spectacular ride for all of us. I was honored to go on that ride.”

Burnet had a 14-0 record before the state championship game and at least six athletes destined to play Division I football. Fans would arrive at Bulldog Field two hours before kickoffs to stand in line for tickets. Alumni from across Texas purchased season tickets and traveled several hours one way to come home and watch the Bulldogs.

Those fans were also affected by what happened to Fulbright that day in November 2002 in San Antonio, Chittim said.

“It wasn’t just players,” he said. “I think everybody who was there that night had a hard time.”

Chittim contacted Fulbright last year to let him know Burnet hasn’t forgotten him, and shared his idea for the documentary. The producer believes the story needs to be shared and wanted to tell it.

“(Fulbright’s) message is very powerful,” Chittim said. “I see Corey dealing with so much. He stays positive. In 2014, my dad (Kevin) had a brain tumor and died. I see them embrace life for what it is and having the spirit not to let it break them or define them. I see (Fulbright) go out every day and live life to the fullest.”

Chittim has filmmaking and acting experience, starring in Kenny Chesney’s video “There Goes my Life” and working in “Infamous,” a Daniel Craig movie, as well as a number of TV and commercial appearances.

Burnet High School is hosting Corey Fulbright Night on October 18 when the Bulldogs host Fischer Canyon Lake in a District 14-4A Division I contest. Fulbright will be introduced to the crowd at 7 p.m., a half-hour before kickoff.

Chittim doesn’t have a deadline for finishing the documentary. It depends on funding. To help, search for @BulldogsUnitedFilm on Facebook.

“It’s an important message,” Chittim said about the film. “It’s been a lot of fun to do. I want to go by whatever feels right. I want to do it justice.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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