A Football Father and Son

Two generations of dedication to Edina football.
Dave and Mike Bush share a love for sports, especially Edina football.

Among this year’s honorees at Edina’s volunteer recognition reception was Dave Bush, who has been lending a helping hand to Edina football for 37 years. Dave grew up in Minneapolis and started playing football in the fifth grade through a park program. He was always the biggest kid in his age group, became a skilled kicker and started kicking for his high school varsity team when only a freshman. He says, “Back in those days, when the Vikings had a home game, they opened our high school field so the visiting team could practice.” That’s when Dave recalls being introduced to Los Angeles Rams kicker Danny Villnueva. “He was only 5 foot 4 inches tall and could kick the living daylights out of the ball,” Dave says. “I picked up a lot of pointers from him.”

Dave went on to become an all-conference high school football player and achieved all-state his senior year before graduating in 1966. “I played one year in college and got hurt,” he says, and he likely thought his football days were well behind him. But in 1977, the same year he moved to Edina, three high school buddies called and asked Dave if he was interested in coaching youth football. “I was the only one who kept with it,” Dave says.

Twenty-five years later, Dave ushered in what was then considered cutting-edge technology for high school football teams. According to Mike Bush, Dave’s only son and current member of the Edina High School football coaching staff, staff members once had to chart plays and evaluate player’s performance with written reports. In 2002, the head coach asked Dave to figure out an easier way. His creative solution was to sit in a plastic lawn chair atop an RV parked in the lot outside the football stadium and record games using a clunky VHS camcorder slung over his shoulder. Filming games for scouting and training purposes is commonplace these days, and Dave has since retired the clunky camcorder for a state-of-the-art telescoping camera.

Dave also helped establish an eighth-grade transition program for incoming freshman football players. When Mike was a ninth-grader, “I didn’t know about mandatory physicals or what the expectations were,” Dave says. “Now, we spend half a day on a Saturday informing incoming players and parents about the transition to the high school athletic environment.”

But Dave’s favorite part of his football experience has been coaching his son and getting to see so many other kids grow into fine young men and go on to achieve great things. Mike (a 2005 EHS graduate) was a coach for the Hornets in 2012 when the team won the conference championship in an undefeated season, capped off by beating rival Eden Prairie. They also won their section and went on to the semi-final game in the Metrodome. That coachable team of overachievers had their sights set on the state championship game, something Edina football has been aiming for since 1981, the last time an Edina team had made it that far. But their hopes would be dashed by a Rosemount win in the semis. “There was not a dry eye in the stadium that day,” says Dave. “They left everything out on the field.”

Mike nods and says, “Players from that 2012 team still get choked up when remembering that amazing season.” Known as “Bushy” on the current coaching staff, Mike says the Edina football experience isn’t all about wins and losses: “It’s about when players tell me, ‘Bushy, high school football has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.’ ” Mike doesn’t have team records memorized, but he can tell you about kids who are standouts on and off the field. “The kids are what keep you coming back. That’s priceless to me.”

What’s also priceless is having a dad committed to helping kids become the best they can be. Dave is humbled by the recognition and says, “It’s been a standing joke since I started coaching youth sports to never be too hard on the kids because we may be working for them one day.”