Chris Rules!Nov 10th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Alumni Profile, Features
Chris Furrule ’94
BY LEIGH ANN COLEMAN ’09
Shortly after arriving for football camp in the summer of 1990, freshman defensive end Chris Furrule ’94 found himself sitting in his dorm room with an injury wondering what he was doing there. “Why not just go home and enjoy the rest of the summer?” he thought. At that moment, Coach O’Neil burst through his door and told him to get back to practice. What was probably the scariest pep talk Furrule had ever encountered he later described as “the best thing that ever happened to me.” He returned to practices with the football team and quickly began to realize that Wesley College was the right place for him. Before long he got to know his fellow students and sparked numerous friendships that remain strong today.
If it had not been for the encouragement and support of his coaches, Furrule might have given up on college before he even started his first semester. Head Coach Mike Drass took the time to get him enrolled in the work-study program. “Coach Drass definitely looked after me, took care of me, and we had a great relationship. He was that father figure on campus,” said Furrule.
But the extra support did not stop with the head coach alone. Coach Chip Knapp helped Furrule find work over the summer with Children’s Choice. “That was great because I got to be a big brother to a lot of younger kids and having that job was a big help financially,” he said. The relationships he had with his coaches were invaluable whenever he was going through a challenging experience or having doubts. He added, “And this continued long after I graduated.”
In his football career at Wesley, Furrule was named All-American, All– Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and the Wolverines’ Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. He was the all-time leader in career quarterback sacks when he graduated and still ranks in Wesley’s top five. Furrule was the only defensive lineman at the time to have had a sack, interception, tackle for a loss and fumble recovery in the same game and was even mentioned in Sports Illustrated for having done so.
In recognition of his many gridiron achievements, Furrule was inducted last fall into the Wesley College Athletic Hall of Fame, which he considers “a huge honor.” He remarks how far the football program has come since his days on the field. “They were ranked number three this year—unbelievable. My first year we had the longest losing streak in the history of football. I think 0–33 or something,” said Furrule. “To see where [Wesley] football is today is exciting. I always like to say we started the new trend, because we were the first team to have a .500 winning record.”
Off the field, Furrule credits professors Tom Sturgis and Lorena Stone for coaching him in the classroom, where he made the Dean’s List. “They were two people that spent a lot of time with me and got me through the tough times academically,” he said. While studying elementary education at Wesley, Furrule had hoped to become a teacher and coach.
At the top of his list of college highlights, Furrule cites the sense of family that Wesley provided and the opportunity to make lifelong friends. The most significant of these was Dawn (Flanagan) Furrule ’92, whom he married shortly after graduation. “The best part is that I met my wife there. I dated her the entire time I was at Wesley. She was a year older but she ended up staying with me the year after she graduated.”
Today the couple lives in New Jersey with their three children—Jake (14), Alexis (10) and McKenzie (7). They are very active parents, attending almost all of their children’s activities including basketball, soccer, softball and dance recitals. Furrule even lends his time to coaching his daughters’ teams. Their eldest son Jake has autism, and although it creates an added challenge to parenthood, Furrule treasures his role to his family. “Being a father is fun. I enjoy every minute.” He and his son share a love for sports and they can normally be found watching a game together. In support of Jake and other children with autism, Furrule is creating an event called “Jogging for Jake,” a run/walk for autism in partnership with the South Jersey chapter of the Variety Club. All proceeds from the event, planned for April 2011, will go to the charity’s autism department.
A few years after leaving Wesley, Furrule decided to make a career switch. He was still interested in educating others, but through a different platform other than a classroom.
Now as the president of Creative Financial Group of New Jersey, he enlightens adults on their best investments and financial options for protecting their families and gains much fulfillment from his work. “It’s the satisfaction you get when you’ve helped someone retire and be financially stable, when you’ve helped them invest their money properly and they thank you for it, when we give our clients the peace of mind that when they pass, surviving family will be able to take care of themselves.”
Regarded as one of the top firms in Monmouth County, his company was featured in Forbes magazine in August. “It’s about the largest thing that has ever happened to us,” he said.
In addition to truly enjoying the financial planning industry, Furrule also gains a strong sense of satisfaction as a business owner and leader. “There are so many people that come to work for me, and whether they are young kids right out of school or they are career changers, I love to watch their careers grow and I take pride in the success of us all,” he said.
He still lives by the idea of building an extended family, and his giving spirit reaches beyond the office walls as well. Around the holidays, his team supports five families by providing their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as well as toys for the children. He and his colleagues also volunteer at a local nursing home on Tuesdays. The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, one of the largest charities that Creative Financial Group supports, recently presented Furrule with its Philanthropy Award. “To win that award this year was really big for us. We put a lot of time into giving back to the community.”
Furrule considers himself lucky, not only to have a very supportive wife and three wonderful children, but also to have held onto the many friendships that began back in his Wesley College days. The same coaches who would not let him give up as a student call him and his friends back together every year, keeping the Wesley football family together. He and his fellow Wolverines still talk on a regular basis and have shared experiences as their kids have grown up together. Furrule says many have been there to help him start up what is now a successful business. “We all kept the friendships going, but a lot of it is because of the coaches and how they keep everybody together and constantly keep us in contact with one another.”
Reflecting back on the turning point he faced on that day in his dorm room 20 years ago, Furrule now realizes how a coach and mentor can make all the difference in how your life will turn out. “I’m happy and proud that I went to Wesley. I probably wouldn’t be here or as happily married if I went somewhere else. I never would have gotten this life, I never would have met these great friends, and I probably wouldn’t be in this career. Wesley helped all that happen.”