By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A thousand words is the old adage. But a photo from the MHSAA Baseball Semifinals just more than a week ago told a story of 13 years of friendship.
The shot of Grand Rapids Catholic Central catcher Luke Passinault embracing relief pitcher Joe Collins after the Cougars’ 3-2 win June 13 at McLane Stadium was not unlike many celebrating the thrill of victory during the final sports weekend of the 2018-19 school year.
But it caught the attention of Karla Collins, Joe’s mother, who recalled a similar keepsake of the now-seniors celebrating a soccer win when they were 5 years old.
Passinault and Joe Collins have been best friends since kindergarten and teammates since that time as well in baseball, soccer, basketball and football. They suited up together as juniors for the GRCC football team that won the Division 4 championship at Ford Field, and nearly capped their high school careers with what would’ve been the school’s first baseball title since 1985.
Although the Cougars came up one win short – losing to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 8-1 in the championship game – the runner-up finish was the program’s best on the diamond since 2003. Just getting to the season’s final day was no doubt sweeter as the Cougars entered the postseason unranked.
Passinault and Collins will continue as friends, of course, but teammates as well despite concluding their GRCC careers. They’ll be playing football together beginning this fall at Division III power John Carroll University in Ohio.
PHOTO: GRCC catcher Luke Passinault, left, embraces pitcher Joe Collins after their team defeated Trenton in a Division 2 Semifinal two weekends ago.
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.
Bush, 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.