The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) announced Stephen Lush the 2021 Lorne Wood Award recipient for outstanding support towards school athletic programs Nov. 25.
“I am very honored to be nominated and receive such a prestigious award from ASAA. This award is humbling but I could not have won it without the support of our staff at Bentley School and parent/community volunteers. Without their dedication to our students, what we offer in terms of athletic opportunities would not be possible,” said Lush, Bentley School vice-principal.
ASAA pivoted from the typical awarding ceremony to meeting online. ASAA executive director John Paton personally presented the award to Lush during his regular coaching sessions Nov. 25. He was officially announced the award winner during the Dec. 2 ASAA virtual meeting.
“There were several nominations made for the award and when the executive committee of the association was looking at the nominations, who were all worthy recipients, one thing that stood out with Lush was both the breadth and the length of his involvement in doing things for student-athletes. The award itself is intended for a school administrator who shows outstanding support for school athletic programs.
“There is so much he does in his own school, but there is also so much he does outside of his school in the world of school athletics, which ultimately does benefit the students in his own school. Lush had taken some student-athlete leaders to attend a student-athlete leadership conference in Minneapolis. He has always been the type of person to step up, and volunteer for all the kids,” said Paton.
“Lush was the first commissioner when team-handball was introduced as a brand new sport, said Paton. “He was also the first president of the Alberta Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which is an organization we created back in 2008, and it’s now a national organization called the Canadian Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Lush worked closely with us as the president of that organization as we grew it as a professional development organization for directors of athletics in high schools,” added Paton.
Apart from being the school vice-principal, Lush also serves as the athletic director, academic guidance counsellor, and work experience and dual credit coordinator for Bentley School. With an avid 35-year career as a coach, Lush has been training Bentley School students for cross country, golf, volleyball, basketball, handball, curling, badminton, and track and field, for 12 years.
Lush said school sports help create relationships with the athletes while pushing to bring the best out of them.
“Our team mission when we play is “let’s leave a positive impact on this place.” I try to teach my athletes that playing on a team is about being positive, having fun, growing and learning new skills, supporting one another, and creating relationships. Many of the skills they learn from playing sports can be transferable to school and in life – perseverance, commitment, and dedication. For some students, the reason why they stay in school is because of school athletics. Athletic programs in schools play a big part in a school’s culture,” said Lush.
Paton said extra-curricular activities are an important part of schooling. He added involvement in activities such as music, art, dance, drama, or sports, plays an integral part in students’ overall development.
“Sports bring life into the school building and create a culture of striving to be better. While involved in school sports and being part of a team, students learn about team spirit, camaraderie, sacrifice, and hard work, which are things that should be seen as part of the mainstream educational offering in schools. It’s always an extracurricular thing, but to me, it’s very important. School sports change, lives, create leaders of tomorrow,” said Paton.
Lush looks forward to the continued growth of character-based athletics, in and out of school. He aims to rebuild leadership by teaching students to become officials in all sports offered.
“For a small town, I think we have decent facilities and opportunities for our youth. Outside of all the sports the school organizes, the community of Bentley has minor hockey, outdoor soccer, and baseball/softball for youths.
“One thing I would like to see is an outdoor ice rink for the kids to play shinny any time they want during the winter months. Our arena offers free skating and stick time but a person’s schedule might not always line up with the days or time of the arena’s, so having an outdoor rink that can be accessed from dawn to dusk would be a great asset to this community,” concluded Lush.