The question loomed before him: Should he be faithful to his longtime love, art, or make the switch to a newer, possibly more exciting love, lacrosse?
In the end, Michael Fulmore chose to take a step on the road toward playing collegiate lacrosse over an opportunity to study art at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
"There was more artwork after artwork," Fulmore, a 2004 Carver Vo-Tech graduate, said while visiting MICA earlier this summer. "I started to realize more how much I love being an athlete, not just an artist. I wanted to be at a place where I could do both."
"Both" being the key word. Although Fulmore is passing up MICA, he is not giving up on art. He wants to continue drawing portraits and murals through college and then merge his art into a large business endeavor upon graduation. He's already active in dealing his work, having made more than $2,000 off it.
"I wasn't too fond of [labor] while I was in high school," Fulmore said, "so I started doing that. ... I've built up a passion for it. It's something I enjoy and can make money on."
His skills were on display in Philadelphia this summer at the NAACP's ACT-SO competition. ACT-SO stands for Afro-academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, and is held each year to encourage African-American youths to achieve in those areas.
Fulmore's work also has been on display at the Parlett Moore Library at Coppin State. His art (four pieces featuring a charcoal self-portrait and pencil portrait of Del. Tony Fulton) were chosen for display by James A. Brown, chairman of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP ACT-SO program.
"He is definitely an artist on the move," Brown said of Fulmore. "These four pieces say this young gentleman is a serious artist and understands his craft."
While the public has access to Fulmore's skills as an artist, it will have to wait to see his talents as an athlete. Though Fulmore is intent on playing lacrosse in college, in the fall he will attend Morgan State, which doesn't have a lacrosse program. He's received several scholarships to attend Morgan, including a Pell Grant and funds from the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Fulmore plans to improve his 2.6 grade-point-average from high school while at Morgan and then transfer next fall to Towson University, where he'll try out for the Tigers' lacrosse team.
"It would mean a lot" to play at Towson, Fulmore said. "I hear a lot about the program and oftentimes I watch them on TV. It's a place for me to better my skills as a lacrosse player."
The challenge for Fulmore over the next year will be to stay in shape and keep his skills crisp. He'll train with his best friend and former Carver teammate, Mitch Waters.
Waters and Fulmore have been friends since their freshman year in high school. They joined the Carver lacrosse team during their sophomore year at the request of Paul Britt, their junior varsity football coach and varsity lacrosse coach.
After a year with Britt and two other coaches, Sean Markley and Tim Glass, and a summer at a Howard County lacrosse camp, Fulmore and Waters became two of the team's top players as juniors. Waters starred on defense and Fulmore in midfield. Still, the team struggled, failing to win a game.
In their senior season, however, the Bears went 6-6 and earned a trip to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Division championship against Southwestern.
The Bears lost, 10-7, but not before Fulmore made a statement. Playing defense, he took the ball away from an opposing midfielder and raced downfield into the teeth of the defense before whipping the ball into the net.
Plays such as those earned him the honor of becoming the first Baltimore City player in more than 20 years to attend the National High School Senior Showcase, a two-game all-star lacrosse tournament played in St. Louis this summer. Against some of the best high school competition in the country, Fulmore showed his talent, scoring one goal and playing solidly throughout, according to the coaches.
"He's very, very quick," said Joe Colly, who coached the East team against Fulmore's South team. "That kid could make up some ground like you couldn't believe."
South team co-coach Chris Heide also spoke highly of Fulmore, saying that even though his skills with his left hand could use improvement, he made up for it with his faceoff efforts, speed, agility, toughness and "coachability."
"His faceoff ability alone should carry him over to the next level," Heide said.
Fulmore is counting on that in his pursuit of his newest love.