Entering his 48th year as a high school football coach, Gary Rushing has shown no signs of slowing down.
The success that Rushing had while in charge of the Azle Christian Crusaders for the past 12 years translated over to his first year at Community Christian School, where he has his new team at 8-1, which is the second most wins for the program since 2009 when the Warriors went 10-2.
Rushing has described the key to his longevity and coaching style as being a kids' coach, meaning he has found a balance between being their friend and being authoritative at practice.
"That is the trait I have carried through the years," he said. "The kids find that trait essential, or they wouldn't be out there. I get on them hard, but at the end of the day, I try to make them feel good about themselves, win or lose, and to be a kids' coach."
The investments Rushing has put toward his players have shown to get the most out of each of them.
"His knowledge of the game is just outstanding," Community Christian AD Brian Rodericks said. "Most importantly, the relationships he builds with the young men and how he gets them to play for him. They genuinely care for him, too. Through my 28 years as a coach, I've noticed that the more you invest in the kids, the harder they will work for you."
Rodericks, in all his years being around sports and coaching, has not seen a balance like what Rushing has displayed of coaching and being friendly while succeeding.
"I stand out there at practice in awe of how he sees the game," Rodericks said. "I have seen coaches that don't have a great relationship with the kids, but they understand football and their program win games. Then I have seen coaches who are the kids' best friend, and the kids love them, but they don't know a lick about the sport and are not competitive. The balance here with Coach Rushing amazes me."
With his experience and knowledge from 11-man football, Rushing has used some techniques to his advantage in six-man.
"I have had the chance to incorporate some 11-man receiver routes I picked up through the years into our game plan," he said.
Coming to Community Christian, Rushing was at a disadvantage early on as they only had a team of seven ready to go over the summer. But as time continued and more players transferred in, the team grew, including the talent level, which helped Rushing get his players to come together and get the program to an 8-1 record as the regular season nears its end.
"It started with us only having seven players and have gotten several more players since then," Rushing said. "We just had to figure out how to blend it."
Through this time last year compared to now, Rushing has already improved the team. After the first eight games of last year, the Warriors were 4-4, while this year, they were 7-1.
When deciding how to handle hiring a new coach for the football program, Rodericks had no question about who it was that should lead the program.
"I have known Gary for 20 years now," Rodericks said. "He is well respected by coaches all around. How he deals with the young men, it is a blessing to have him out here."
Rodericks was aware of the success Rushing brings with him wherever he goes, but the immediate success shocked him.
"It has been a great experience," Rodericks said. "But we are not surprised at all. I figured we would be successful, but I didn't know we would be 8-1 at this point. With Coach Rushing coming in and his coaching style and how he gets those kids to work hard for him, the success doesn't surprise me at all. I know what he is capable of."
There is a new energy around the program with a legend roaming the sidelines.
"We are ecstatic," Rodericks said. "Every year, we want to put our best foot forward, but with him coming, it is a little special. His hiring had everyone around here pumped up for the season."
Community Christian concludes its regular season Friday at home against Parkview Christian.