Palisade wrestling coach wants more time with his family
Brian Rush figured this would be his last year of coaching — at least for a while.
The Palisade High School wrestling coach made it official Monday, resigning the post he held for nine seasons.
Rush, 45, said he wanted to free up his time to watch his son, Zach, play sports now that Zach is in middle school.
“Zach will be in the seventh grade next year,” Rush said. “I want to watch him play sports. He plans on playing basketball and wrestling. If I’m doing this (coaching), I’m not watching him.”
Rush has coached wrestling at Palisade High School for the past 14 years, including the past nine as the head coach.
“Brian is one of those guys that represents and role models what is good about athletics,” Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, but his expectations are high without him saying much about it. It’s kind of a lost art.
“Brian had this unique way. Kids would give 110 percent effort because of Brian’s expectations. He would never ask of them something he wouldn’t ask of himself. He would run, too.
“Being a champion is defined by your character. That’s Brian Rush. He could get (wrestlers) to understand and buy into it. He’s one of the most humble people I’ve ever met.”
The Bulldogs won seven Western Slope League titles, including six consecutive league titles, and three region titles in his nine years.
Rush’s record was 157-31 in duals.
“The tournaments and matches are great, but the reason most coaches coach is for the kids,” Rush said. “It’s neat working with different kids. Each team has a different personality. The kids keep you going.”
Rush has coached numerous state place-winners, at least one each season in his nine years.
Junior Dalton Hannigan won a state title this season.
“It was heartbreaking when he told me,” Hannigan said. “It caught me off-guard. I didn’t know what to do. I thought about everything he’s done for me.
“I wouldn’t be the wrestler I am without him. He got me to buy into the fact I can win a state title.”
Senior Justin Ray placed for the third time in his four years at the state tournament.
Hannigan is one of four state qualifiers expected to return next season.
“Whoever steps into this program has some great kids coming back, including four state qualifiers,” Rush said. “Whoever steps in is stepping into a good program. It was nice having Justin Ray go out with a win and Dalton winning a state title.”
Rush was assisted by Lonnie Tate the past nine years. Jerry Palmer, Jeff Moore and Hank Bounds have assisted Rush through the years.
“I can’t go back and get these years back to watch my son,” Rush said. “I can always go back and coach. I’d also like to thank my wife (Stephanie) for her support.
“I’ve enjoyed what I do. I’ll still be around. I just need to get out of being a head coach. I can still help out if someone wants me.”
Rush will remain a physical education teacher at Palisade High School.
“His reason helped me understand why he resigned,” Hannigan said. “I can respect the fact he wants to be there to watch his son. I’m still surprised. There’s no reason for me to be angry. He’s shown me everything he knows.”