By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
After 21 years as Varsity Head Coach of the Chelsea Bulldogs, Brad Bush is stepping down effective immediately.
The decision was something Bush has contemplated over the course of the past year, but it only became serious within the past couple of weeks.
“You know when it’s the right time. This felt like the right time for our program,” said Bush. “And so, I just felt to be timely about it, and be in the best position to go and get another, what I would think would be, a really good coach. It was the right time.”
Assistant Athletic Director Jason Morris, who has spent the last three years working alongside Bush, didn’t think Bush’s time as head coach would come to an end as quickly as it did.
“I can tell you he didn’t make a spur of the moment decision,” said Morris. “I’m sure he’s been processing this for a long time and I knew it was going to come to an end eventually, but not this soon. I see how hard he works on both jobs on a daily basis and it’s a grind there’s no question about it.”
Bush talked to The Sun Times and said that there were many factors that played into his decision and despite stepping down from his coaching responsibilities, will continue to serve as Athletic Director.
“I want to make sure I’m the very best Athletic Director and Head Coach I can be, and I just felt like for me right now I needed to probably step aside and concentrate on being the Athletic Director,” said Bush. “I still love coaching, I still have great energy, and I still love being around the kids and coaching. It’s just for me right now, it is the right time.”
On Monday, Apr. 2 Bush tweeted from his personal social media account about an important team meeting the next morning in the weight room. Quinn Starkey, a junior wide receiver on this year’s football team, assumed that it was like any other off-season meeting.
“We have many team meetings throughout the offseason to talk about maintenance things and I thought this was just one of them,” said Starkey.
Bush met with his coaching staff Monday night to inform them of his decision and met with the football team Tuesday morning to inform them of his decision.
“The meeting was straight to the point but an emphasis that the tradition and expectations will remain the same,” said Starkey. “Almost everyone in the room didn’t see it coming and people were a little shook considering the great impact Coach Bush has had on the Chelsea community for every player’s entire lives.”
At 1:21 p.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 3 a social media account for the Chelsea Football program released a statement.
“On behalf of players and coaches, past and present, Chelsea Football would like to thank Brad Bush for 21 years of dedication to Chelsea Football, and the Chelsea community.”
Before the school day had even ended, next year’s senior class had been in communication about how their goals wouldn’t be changing.
“We all have great trust in our coaches that they will keep what we have going and keep the tradition going that great players and coaches have set long before us,” added Starkey.
“With the kids, my biggest thing is for them to understand that this is just a bump in the road,” said Bush. “We’re going to have a really good coach in place shortly, our staff is staying, and our expectations don’t change. I wanted them to know how much I care about them because I do, that’s the hardest part (about stepping down) is the relationship you have with the kids and coaches. That’s what makes it difficult.”
When he met with the staff one of the things they went through was a long list of things that needed to continue to get done and were delegated to different coaches in the room.
“He’s not only a great coach, but he’s also been a mentor to myself and many other former players,” said Varsity Defensive Line Coach Logan Kelly, who has been coaching in the Chelsea Football program for four years, the past two as defensive line coach. “He’s the reason I started coaching. He’s led the football program for 21 years and that’s a testament to the type of person he is.”
Kelly was a former player who came back and asked Bush if he could coach and was given the opportunity to help coach junior varsity for two years. Kelly told The Sun Times of the valuable football knowledge he learned from a great coach during his playing days as well as how to become a better coach after he himself was finished playing.
Thomas Steele, a senior who played quarterback for the Bulldogs this past season, wasn’t expecting the announcement either. He had heard a couple what if’s every once in a while but didn’t expect anything to happen.
After the Monday, Apr. 2 meeting Steele received a couple texts from now former teammates.
“I was very surprised when I first heard and thought how different it’s going to feel going to a game and not have him coaching,” said Steele.
Even though his class may not have known it, Steele talked about how being the last class that Bush had coached made him feel.
“It’s something that the guys and I will never forget and we all are honored to have such a good coach like him who would do anything for anyone of us,” added Steele. “And hopefully we hold a special place with him being tied for the most wins by a class under him at 32 wins and being the last team he coached here. Something in general that stood out to me is how much time he spent to make not only the program better but us as young men,” said Steele. “Like QB workouts in the morning before school and the QB meeting after practice on Wednesday during game week.”
The search for the next head coach of Chelsea Bulldog football will begin immediately, Bush had just gotten out of a meeting when he spoke with The Sun Times but said that the job should be posted within the day.
“The kids deserve that, and I think it’s also important our coaches are committed to staying,” said Bush. “We have a great staff that is committed to staying and continue to coach, I know from that standpoint were in a really good situation.”
Bush said that he wanted to ensure that the kids got everything they deserve out of their head coach and with the program being in as good of shape as it is and with the coaching continuity that it was clear to him that it was the right time to step down.
“I’m sure he’ll feel a better grasp on day-to-day operations in the athletic department as a whole,” said Morris. “Not that he couldn’t handle it before, because he could. I just think he won’t run himself ragged doing it. I’m super excited to keep working beside him because he clearly has a long-term vision for our athletic department. Where he has seen it has been before, where he wants it to be and keeping it there.”
Bush compiled a 170-58 record over his 21 years as head coach; winning 13 Conference Championships, 7 District Championships, and 1 Regional Championship. In 2015 the Bulldogs also made a D-3 State Title game, falling to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 29-12.
On Tuesday evening, after his announcement, a six-word tweet from Bush’s account stated, “Once a Bulldog, Always a Bulldog.”