Gull Lake Rallying for Another Run

May 31, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A year ago, Richland Gull Lake coach Bill Blakely looked across C.O. Brown stadium and saw one of the state’s top power hitters of all-time – plus five sophomores battling through the nerves of playing in an MHSAA Division 2 Semifinal.

This spring, that big bat – catcher Zach Fish – played instead for Oklahoma State University. But now, the Blue Devils’ coach sees a team filled with big-game experience and capable of rolling despite the graduation of an all-state Dream Teamer or the recent loss of its ace pitcher to an injury.

Gull Lake is 34-2 this spring and 72-4 over the last two heading into Saturday’s District at Otsego. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 in Division 2 with wins over No. 2 Grand Rapids Christian, No. 7 St. Clair and previously-ranked Division 1 Portage Central – that last victory coming Saturday by a score of 9-7 in the Greater Kalamazoo Tournament championship game.

“They remember the games from last year, the importance of playing clean,” Blakely said of his team, which despite Fish's graduation returned this spring nearly intact. “They remember from last year that mistakes can just kill you, and you have to minimize those regardless of the competition.”

That perspective should continue to pay off as the Blue Devils attempt to reach Battle Creek again in three weeks – and this time advance to their first MHSAA championship game.

This week’s Second Half High 5 team honoree has gotten pitching wins from 10 players. Five have at least four wins, and together the staff has a 2.24 ERA. Three pitchers will do the same at Division I or II colleges next season – Nate Stegman (5-1) at Eastern Kentucky University, Lucas Hamelink (7-0) at Hillsdale College and Anthony Wargolet (4-0) at Lake Erie College.

That level of pitching depth is rare to say the least. But as of Thursday morning, Blakely still wasn’t sure who would start Saturday’s District Semifinal. Stegman, an all-state selection in 2011, suffered an arm injury a few weeks ago and might not make it back even if Gull Lake returns to Bailey Park.

So the Blue Devils also must continue to rely on a line-up that returned eight starters from last season’s Semifinal order. Three are hitting at least .400 – shortstop Colton Bradley (.488), third baseman Logan Holwerda (.467) and second baseman/catcher Patrick Gaudard (.402). More impressively, 12 players total have an on-base percentage of at least .400, and the team has 138 stolen bases while being caught only 20 times.

“We’ve talked about having the pieces in place where we could make a run for it,” Blakely said. “We’ll put the pieces together. We’ve won this year differently that last year – we’ve bunted a lot more, stolen a lot more. That part for us is completely new.”

But the pressure that comes now is not. Not only is most of the team back from last season, but Hamelink, Gaudard and junior Connor Owen were part of their 100th Gull Lake wins Saturday – the Blue Devils also went 30-11 when all three were on the team in 2010.

The tough part now will be extending the streak without Stegman. But that depth and experience will go a long way toward making it possible.

“The games when something is on the line, they’ve been more focused and less nervous,” Blakeley said. “And we purposely put together a difficult schedule to have that playoff game atmosphere.”

PHOTO: Outfielder Aaron Fadden is hitting .283 with 14 stolen bases this season after also starting for Gull Lake in 2011.

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.