State Titles and Life Lessons: Bushnell leaves his mark on baseball in Kansas and the Seaman community

Sports

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – All good things come to an end.

“Let’s give it up for Steve Bushnell, our leader,” a Seaman coached yelled as fans looked on and wished their 20-plus year head coach a goodbye.

Most don’t end like this.

“He’s always been a fierce competitor but he does it the right way,” Seaman assistant coach Jacob Kirmer said.

Since 1999, he’s brought home 9 state baseball titles, runner up four times, and 18 state tournament appearances. He didn’t get a chance to make it three straight 5A crowns despite another stacked team, but it’s just another lesson he can pass on.

“When you go through life you have to deal with some curveballs that get thrown at you, but you gotta move on. Hopefully, we’ve had a small impact on them, but I definitely know they’ve had a huge impact on us,” Bushnell said.

His guys don’t want to see him go, but they understand.

“I do believe he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had and one of the best in the state of Kansas. Seeing him leave the game is kinda hard,” said Seaman senior and two-time state champion Hunter Hesseltine.

But when it comes down to it, it’s not all about the hardware to the emporia state grad, even if he does have plenty of it, it’s about developing boys into men. Jacob Kirmer knows all too well, he’s played against him and coached with him.

“It’s all about life, he really relates the game back to life, and he treats the game as life, it’s one of the special things about him is that he’s able to use that to develop good men and good people,” said Kirmer.

The run didn’t end with another title, but his tenure stretches far wider than the foul poles. When he met with his seniors, coaches, and current players one last night, he couldn’t help but let 20 years of memories wash over him

“It is emotional when you’ve invested I guess 27 years as part of being in the staff, you know just a lot of great memories and you just reflect on so many of the moments that took place along the journey and so definitely miss that, but I won’t be far away,” Bushnell said as he smiled and took it all in one last time.

Bushnell isn’t leaving though, just moving up in the athletic department, he’ll be the new athletic director for Seaman starting next school year. Trent Oliva will replace him as head coach.

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