Rushing’s roots shape his coaching

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 11, 2001

Ron Rushing’s baseball roots are buried deep in Mississippisoil. From Dixie Youth baseball in Natchez to Delta StateUniversity, he has been surrounded by outstanding tradition,coaches and players.

Rushing’s baseball expertise has been shared with BrookhavenAcademy’s players the last two years and the results have beenimpressive. He has taken a down-trodden program and worked wonderS.He has shaped it into a district champion and state playoff titlecontender.

For his accomplishments, Rushing has been named The DailyLeader’s 2001 Lincoln County Baseball Coach of the Year.

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Rushing, 28, is an Adams County native. He teaches elementaryphysical education at the school.

“My dad was a great influence on my baseball life,” saidRushing. “He coached me until I was 12 years old.”

A 1991 graduate of Adams County Christian School, Rushing was astar catcher. He continued playing baseball at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College where he earned all-state and all-regionaccolades under Coach Keith Case.

“Coach Case had a great interest in the game and helped shape myphilosophy,” said Rushing. “Right after Co-Lin hired him he wentout and tore down the dugouts.”

Rushing was profoundly influenced by Coach Bill Marchant atDelta State. Marchant, paralyzed in an auto accident, continued tocoach the Statesmen from a wheelchair and led them to a third placefinish in the NCAA Division II Word Series.

“(Marchant) was a great man in a wheelchair,” said Rushing. “Theplayers respected him and he had a big impact on my life.”

Delta State’s players are a closely knit group. “There wereabout 24 of us who hung around together. We even went to churchtogether,” at the First Baptist Church of Cleveland. “A lot of usare coaching baseball now.”

What Rushing inherited at Brookhaven Academy was less thanappealing to any ambitious young coach with designs on a successfulcareer. Treated like an ugly orphan, the baseball program had beenpassed from volunteer coaches to part-time coaches, almost on anannual basis.

“They had won 27 or 28 games in nine or 10 years,” Rushingrecalled. “There was no interest in the baseball program.”

In 1984, the Cougars were a bright spot when they won a Class Astate championship but it was just a distant memory, honored by asign on the outfield fence. Seasons came and seasons went. TheCougars were annual doormats in the district race.

Rushing’s first edition finished 12-15 and was actually incontention for a state playoff berth. This year the Cougars buriedthe past. They won the district title and advanced to the SouthState AA finals. They were eliminated by Simpson County Academy,the eventual state champion, in the third game of a best-of-threeseries.

Obviously, everyone loves a winner. Support for the BA programcontinues to grow. Major improvements have been made on thefacilities.

“Everyone has been willing to help, be it donations, materialsor work,” said Rushing. “Interest is improving and it will getbetter. Everybody is talking about our program.”

Still on the bright side, Rushing loses only one senior insecond baseman Brandon Achord.

“We are excited about the future,” said Rushing. “We havescheduled 30 games this summer.”

Rushing said volunteers have been a great asset to the program.He said John Bartram and Daniel Burns were willing to workovertime. “When they got off work, they would come out to the fieldand help.”

According to Rushing, there is no easy way to victory lane. “Wepractice hard; three and a half to four hours a day. That’s solidwork, too. Our players have accepted the work load.

“We plan to start lifting weights in the offseason.”

Rushing has been married for one year to the former Kappi Fullerof Natchez. Naturally, she’s a baseball fan, too.