The "Gus Bus"
I first met Gus Malzahn in the fall of 1996. He was in his second year as the head football coach of Shiloh Christian School and I had just joined the staff as the school’s Campus Pastor and head Bible teacher. Gus and I are both from Fort Smith but he’s a few years older than I am and we didn’t really run in the same circles growing up. He did, however, go on to marry Kristi Otwell who was in my youth group and who I did run around with, so there was an informal connection, although distant. Kristi’s parents, and Gus’ in-laws, are in my church today and so I am able to keep up with all things Gus on a pretty close level.
Gus and I became good friends over the course of the next three years. Being around Gus as a colleague on a day-to-day basis, I can say that I got to know the man better than most. In short, Gus is a devout believer in Christ and a consummate professional. If you know anything about Christian school education you know that the pay is not the greatest (compared to the public system) and everyone on staff ends up doing a host of other things besides what they were “hired” to do. In addition to coaching Shiloh to state runner-ups and then to back-to-back championships, he also served as the school’s Dean of Students. That means he was in charge of discipline. Not exactly the most “fun” job on the planet for sure, dealing with dress code violation, truancy, disrespect to teachers, etc. Gus was also the number one cafeteria monitor. Each and every day, he would stand watch, making sure food fights didn’t break out, seeing that kids threw their trash away etc. And…Gus was also the transportation coordinator for the school. He made sure buses were gassed up and ready to go. He coordinated travel plans for students and teachers grades K -12.
Most people know Gus as a coach. I know Gus as a professional. In everything he does, he does it with precision, expertise, class, and godliness.
Gus Malzahn is a man who loves the Lord, prays and seeks God’s wisdom, and is unashamed of his faith with his players and media alike. He is a rare breed today. You could even say he is unique.
So I watched with great pride and joy last night as the Gus Bus rode all the way to a National Championship. Congratulations Gus (and Kristi), you deserve it!
I also had the distinct feeling that this may only be the first stop on the “Bus” tour.