Brad Bush Selected to Michigan High School Hall of Fame

By Seth Kinker,

Brad Bush, Athletic Director at Chelsea and former head coach of Chelsea football, was one of 14 head coaches selected by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association for the class of 2019 announced on Jan. 25.

Bush was head coach of the Bulldogs for 21 years compiling a 169-60 record with 18 playoff appearances while winning seven district titles, going to the state finals in 2015 and earning division three coach of the year in 2015.

Jack Bush, Brad’s son who played at Chelsea and now is on staff at the high school, sent out a congratulatory tweet on Dec. 13 and the bevy of Bulldog supporters offered their congratulations throughout the day. Bush told The Sun Times that he and his family learned in late November.

“I just didn’t feel like putting it out there myself,” said Bush. “Then my son was the one that tweeted it out. From there, the power of social media.”

Bush is on the board of directors for the coaching association, he was at the meeting when the initial announcement was made, and he told The Sun Times he was humbled by the choice.

“You’re humbled because there’s a lot of people that deserve that honor,” said Bush. “I felt I was a little young to be receiving that honor, at the same time I felt a lot of pride for all the stuff we’ve done here. That includes the coaches and players. I felt good about it, I also recognized it’s a group effort, I don’t mean that to be deflective, but we’ve had a lot of really really good coaches here and that’s the reason we’ve had the success.”

With a love for football, competing, and athletics in general Bush decided he wanted to get into coaching after choosing education. He cited coaching as a natural extension of education.

“When I had the opportunity to actually do that then I fell in love with every aspect of it,” said Bush who remained as Athletic Director after stepping down as head coach of the football team. “The relationships, the preparation, the teaching, all those things. Once I did it, I knew it would be my life’s passion. Being an athletic director is an extension of that because now your helping coaches build programs and provide things for programs to make their lives easier. Being an AD doesn’t have the same rewards as a coach, but you almost become the head coach of all the programs and help build them with each coach and there’s certainly an extension there that’s similar to coaching in many ways.”

Bush coached at Ypsilanti (1990-92) and East Kentwood (1993-96) before coming to Chelsea. At East Kentwood he was able to play for his former high school coach and biggest mentor, Bill Giarmo. Giarmo gave Bush the opportunity to be an offensive coordinator at the young age of 23. The amount of responsibility Bush had at such a young age helped grow his passion for the game and got him ready to lead his program.

“A tremendous opportunity for me,” said Bush of his time at East Kentwood. “I would say most of my philosophies on how you treat players and build a program stem back to him.”

When he came to Chelsea in 1997, he found another mentor in Wayne Welton.

“My other greatest mentor in terms of doing things the right way and building things,” said Bush. “There’s certainly times he told me ‘no, but I always felt as a coach he was in your corner trying to help guide you and helping you to do the necessary things to make it as good as it could be.”

Much like new head coach Josh Lucas, Bush was brand new to Chelsea when he arrived and Welton helped Bush feel at home.

“I didn’t know Wayne Welton from anyone when I got the job,” said Bush. “I had never met him, as a real young coach to have not only a top shelf AD but an outstanding coach to learn from was really important. Time flies and as you look back and reflect, I was lucky to be around some great coaches from an early age. My high school coaches, lucky to have great mentors and I’m smart enough to know that doesn’t always happen.”

An obvious highlight that stands out for Bush is the trip to Ford Field in 2015 with Jack at quarterback, but others come from early in his tenure.

“1999, my first time making the playoffs as head coach,” said Bush. “The excitement that was around here in that time. 2000-2001 went undefeated, lost to Harrison both years. In those early years, just some genuine excitement from the whole school to be in the playoffs. And unfortunately, or fortunately, you lose some of that over time because it becomes the norm. Those early years were really a special time in terms of people being excited.”

After abruptly stepping down at the end of last year as head coach of the football program, something he felt he needed to do to help guide several sports through coaching changes, he has been able to stay in the community culture he helped build.

“You have to have long term continuity,” said Bush. “That’s when you have success, when you have turnover, the hardest thing as a head coach is to develop coaches and find good people. The programs that have lots of turnover, no consistency. For us, this long-term success speaks to the work of all those guys who have stayed, the key to this whole thing. People don’t understand how hard it is to get qualified people as coaches, when you do have them and can keep them, that’s when you have success.”

On Mar. 9, a Hall of Fame Induction and Banquet will take place in Lansing with a ceremony to celebrate the inductees.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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