Frankfort Carries Perfect Start into May

May 12, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

It’s no secret in the small town of Frankfort that longtime coach Mike Zimmerman plans to retire after the 2018 season.

In the meantime, his Panthers – most of them juniors who will finish up next spring as well – are off to an incredible start to what is shaping up as a long and successful farewell tour.

The MHSAA/Applebee’s Team of the Month for April, Frankfort’s baseball team is now 25-0 – its best start under Zimmerman, who took over the program in 1994 after six seasons as an assistant coach.

Included in its April victories were a pair over Maple City Glen Lake – a Northwest Conference rival which eliminated the Panthers in the District last spring. A 10-0 win over McBain three days later on April 21 gave Zimmerman the 500th win of a coaching career that’s seen him lead Frankfort to five Regional titles and four MHSAA Semifinal appearances.

He plans to be done after next season so he’ll be able to watch son Brett – one of those juniors – play at Wayne State University. But of course, that’s down the road a bit. For now, his Panthers are top-ranked in Division 4 and enjoying their time together that started when the current seniors got to high school and were joined the next spring by six current juniors who started as freshmen – but really, it all began much earlier than that.

“I’ve coached these kids since they were 5. I’ve always been their coach,” Zimmerman said. “I know their personalities. They know my personality. And that all helps.

“It’s not like I have one son on the team. These kids hang out at my house; it’s like I have a whole team of sons. And that makes it special too.”

Two seniors and seven juniors start, with a third senior working through an injury. From the outside, that might make this team seem young – but as Zimmerman points out, many of his players have 60 varsity games under their belts.

Junior Jack Morrow noted to the Traverse City Record-Eagle after the McBain sweep three weeks ago that he and his teammates had a feeling at the start of high school that they’d eventually put together this kind of success. The Panthers took a step with a solid 23-9 in 2016.

This spring Morrow and junior Kirk Myers together have combined to pitch for more than half that many wins already. Morrow is 6-0 with a 0.87 ERA and Myers, also the shortstop, is 7-0 with a 0.65 ERA.

They also hit .422 and .415, respectively, with Brett Zimmerman pacing the offense at .529 and junior Griffin Kelly at .439. Zimmerman, the catcher, also has thrown out an incredible 15 of 18 would-be base stealers.

Perhaps more importantly, at least to the players, the tall guys lead the homer contest 7-4. That’s just another way these guys are having fun – Panthers 6-foot and taller are trying to hold off the sub-6ers in a longball derby.

Frankfort has clinched a share of the Northwest Conference title – especially impressive again as Glen Lake also is ranked, at No. 7 in Division 4. The Panthers can claim the championship outright Tuesday against Mesick.

And then comes a tournament road with some notable obstacles – if Frankfort makes it through the District, No. 5 Muskegon Catholic Central is a possible Regional opponent while seeking its second Division 4 title in three seasons.

But Zimmerman said he players aren’t looking that far, focusing first on improving so they’ll be ready for whatever opportunities this postseason might hold.

“They’ve been together so long, they know each other well, they trust each other,” Mike Zimmerman said. “They don’t care about stats. They care about trying to win.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2016-17
Flushing girls basketball - Report
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central girls skiing - Report
Powers North Central boys basketball - Report
Dundee boys basketball - Report
Rockford girls swimming & diving - Report
Rochester girls golf - Report
September: Breckenridge football - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Frankort's Kirk Myers (5) watches a teammate cross the plate during a win this season over Suttons Bay. (Middle) The Panthers celebrate coach Mike Zimmerman's 500th win. (Photo courtesy of Frankfort baseball program.)

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 21, 2022

Brad Bush, a highly-respected educator, administrator and coach over the last three decades, has been selected to serve in the position of assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, beginning Jan. 17.

Brad BushBush, 52, taught and coached at East Kentwood High School for four years before beginning a tenure at Chelsea High School in 1997 that has included teaching, then serving as athletic director and later also assistant principal and leading the football program as varsity coach from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-18.

He also has served as a statewide delegate on the MHSAA Representative Council during the last year and provided leadership in multiple roles, including president, for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) since 2005.

Bush will serve as the MHSAA’s lead administrator for baseball and also among lead administrators for the officials program, which includes more than 8,000 registered officials in all sports. Bush also will be assigned additional duties in other sports based on his vast experiences. He was selected from a pool of 34 applicants.

“I’m incredibly excited to have Brad join our team,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. "He’s been an outstanding athletic director and coach who is highly-respected by those who know him.”

As Chelsea athletic director, Bush annually has supervised a staff of 110 coaches across 31 programs, with nearly 70 percent of the high school’s 800 students participating in athletics. As a teacher and assistant principal, he has served on Chelsea’s School Improvement Team and on multiple committees that provided instructional leadership including in the development of the district’s new trimester schedule. In his roles with the MHSFCA, Bush helped direct an organization with more than 2,200 members and also served as the association’s treasurer and liaison to the MHSAA.

Bush is perhaps best known, however, for his coaching success. Over 22 seasons, he led Chelsea’s varsity football team to a 169-60 record, 13 league championships, 18 playoff appearances, seven District titles and a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2015. During his break in tenure as Chelsea coach, Bush served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University during the 2003-04 school year, and he has served as an assistant coach at Albion College the last four seasons contributing to the team’s two league titles and appearance in the 2021 NCAA Division III Playoffs.

“I feel like joining the team at the MHSAA is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bush said. “The 26 years I spent at Chelsea were some of the best times of my life. It’s a professional transition that in the back of my mind, if this opportunity came, was something I needed to do.

“Over time, I’ve grown to care about the bigger picture of athletics and appreciate the role of the MHSAA in protecting high school athletics in Michigan.”

Bush is a 1988 graduate of Ypsilanti High School. He studied and played quarterback at Cornell University before returning and graduating from EMU after majoring in history and minoring in social studies. He earned his physical education endorsement from EMU in 2000 and his master’s in physical education and sports management from EMU in 2002. He has earned continuing education credits in sports management from Drake University and completed the Path to Leadership program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). 

Bush was inducted into MHSFCA Hall of Fame and Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame both in 2019. He and his wife Laura have three adult children, two daughters and a son.

PHOTO Chelsea coach Brad Bush directs his team during the 2015 Division 3 Final at Ford Field.