Time for a change

Rush resigns as GJ baseball coach to spend more time with family

Grand Junction High School coach Kyle Rush led the Tigers to the 2005 state title, top, but Tuesday resigned after 12 years on the job. Rush wants to spend more time with his family and felt his message wasn’t getting across to his players. Rush was 182-73 as the Tigers’ head coach.

Kyle Rush and baseball have been synonymous ever since he was helping Fruita Monument High School win the 1993 state championship with his twin brother, Kirk.

For the past 12 years, he’s been the head coach at Grand Junction High School, leading the Tigers to the 2005 Class 5A state title. Rush, 37, resigned Tuesday, saying it’s time to step aside and focus on his family for a little while.

“Obviously, family is always first, and I need to be focused on my little boy and getting him through some things, and secondly, there comes a time you feel like your message isn’t getting through the same,” Rush said.

With select teams and club teams, it was getting harder and harder for the Tigers to stay together during the summer, when they can play more games and develop the chemistry that’s key to winning during the high school season.

“We have kids that are leaving us in the summer and staying away all fall and coming back in the spring,” he said. “We’ve always liked having a tight-knit group, and we’ve been battling that. Maybe somebody else can bring a little different message.”

He pointed to the success Landon Wareham had with Montrose High School this spring, reaching the Class 4A state championship series by keeping his club together all summer and fall, unless they were playing another high school sport.

“Being able to play together all summer was huge for them,” Rush said. “They made a good run. We were missing that the last two or three years. We’d like to stick with nine starters on the field throughout the year and compete. We mix and match throughout the year and then expect to put it together in mid-March and early April.”

With only three Class 5A teams on the Western Slope, it was harder and harder for the Tigers to compete at the state level against teams from the Front Range that play together all spring, summer and fall.

Rush went 182-73 at Grand Junction, winning eight Southwestern League titles in 12 years. He was voted the SWL coach of the year six times and the Colorado High School Coaches Association coach of the year after winning the state title. His teams made the playoffs all 12 seasons and reached the final eight of the state tournament three times.

“I’m not done coaching, but I’m probably done for now,” said Rush, who added the majority of his coaching staff also is resigning. “Since I was hired in August of 2000, it’s been my life, really, for 12 years. I just think our message wasn’t as effective as I thought it should be. It’s time for someone else to give it a shot.”

He said he’s been asked to join the JUCO Committee, which will allow him to stay involved in baseball. Coaching has taken up nine or 10 months of every year for the past 12, and he’s raised nearly $70,000 during his tenure to make improvements at Fanning Field at the high school.

“Next spring break will be the first spring break ever that I can remember,” Rush said. “It will be weird not having to go prep the field every day in the summer, but it’ll be good.”


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