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Frenship Head Athletic Trainer Receives National Athletic Trainer Excellence Award

It was an exciting Tuesday morning for Dustin Rush as he was called into a random meeting by Bryan Gerlich, Frenship Athletic Director. Little did Rush know that while he was in a “meeting” several athletic coaches, administrators, school board members, student trainers, and even his family were eagerly waiting to surprise him. 

When Gerlich was given the green light, he invited Rush to the fieldhouse lobby where he was surprised with confetti, cheer, laughter, and words of affirmation. Rush had no idea that he was the selected winner for the award.  

The Athletic Trainer Excellence Award through Perry Weather recognizes the contributions of athletic trainers, celebrating their dedication and impact in sports. More than 800 nominations were submitted from across the United States.  

"We were blown away by the over 800 nominations we received this year," said Colin Perry, CEO of Perry Weather. "It's inspiring to see so many athletic trainers going above and beyond to keep athletes safe. Dustin's extraordinary commitment to his athletes' safety and well-being truly stood out. He exemplifies the very spirit of the Athletic Trainer Excellence Award." 

The nomination criteria for the award included years of service, providing an exemplary level of patient health care, elevating the athletic training profession, a description or story of why the nominee should be considered, and number of votes a nominee receives.  

Dustin Rush, who has more than 13 years of commitment to safeguarding the well-being of student athletes stood out among the applicants. Rush shared that he feels extremely honored and humbled to be chosen for this award. 

“It’s a great honor to receive this award,” said Rush. “There are so many athletic trainers throughout the nation that work hard every day and to be recognized for the work that we put in. This award helps represent more than just me; it speaks for our profession.” 

At Frenship we realize that our athletes would never be as successful as they are without athletic trainers. These trainers help serve over 1,000 athletes in 22 sports and across multiple facilities. They are the eyes and ears during all practices and games. 

“I’m very appreciative and humbled to be nominated because you do a lot of work behind the scenes and don’t expect a pat on the back. Those who nominated me deserve the award and recognition just as much as I do,” said Rush.  

When Rush was presented with the award, several Frenship staff went around the room and spoke about the impact Rush has on the Frenship Athletic Program.  

“He has elevated the entire athletic training program at Frenship ISD,” shared Frenship ISD Athletic Director Bryan Gerlich. “Under his guidance, our student athletic trainers are setting new records, achieving at the highest levels, and even participating in state-level competitions.”  

Chad Reynolds, Head Baseball Coach, is one of the many coaches who has experienced Rush’s next level of commitment.  

“He not only cares about the success of our athletic program, most importantly, but he cares about the health and well-being of every single athlete. I cannot imagine the hours beyond normal hours that he spends treating kids and doing things behind the scenes that no one knows about to make our athletic program run,” said Coach Reynolds. “I have been in the coaching profession for over 20 years and involved in competitive athletics as a player for many more, and he is by far the best athletic trainer I have ever been around.” 

Elisha Reese, Frenship High School Assistant Principal has seen the compassion Rush demonstrates towards Frenship students and their families. This attribute is something that sets him apart. 

“One of Dustin's most commendable traits is his unwavering willingness to assist every student in need, never uttering a "no" when approached for help, evaluation, or therapy,” said Reese. “Dustin's extraordinary efforts go beyond the call of duty, ensuring that all 2,400 of our students receive the highest standard of care. Dustin and his sports medicine team exemplify resilience and selflessness, tirelessly balancing the demands of Frenship events throughout the year without complaint. Their unwavering presence, regardless of season or circumstance, underscores their unmatched dedication to our community.” 

Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Richard Dean explains that Rush’s dedication to student success has helped student athletic trainers at both the collegiate level and high school level gain valuable experience.  

“Coach Rush has collaborated with college instructors to provide an opportunity for college students to apply hands-on experience in the field through internships,” said Dean. “He has helped college student-trainers learn the trade as well as encourage high school students to enter the field. Coach Rush is well deserving of this recognition!” 

Senior Student Athletic Trainer Krysten Pyle has worked closely alongside Rush throughout her high school career and feels deeply impacted by his commitment to athletic training.  

“Since I have been around him so often, I have come to learn how much he has sacrificed for this program and everyone in it,” said Pyle. “To the student trainers Rush is our second dad; he always makes sure that we are taken care of mentally, emotionally, and physically. He never fails to show up for anyone who needs help. 99% of the time he is the first one in the fieldhouse and the last one to leave. He spends countless days, weekends, and holidays making sure that everything is in order for our athletes to heal and recover to their best potential.” 

Through receiving the Athletic Training Excellence Award, Rush is given a $2,000 donation to further the cause he believes in most. Rush has the privilege of choosing a sports medicine scholarship fund or charity of his choice to receive this contribution. 

"Dustin genuinely cares about each student's well-being, and that kind of passion makes all the difference. He is a shining example of an exceptional athletic trainer, and we are proud to present him with the 2024 Perry Weather Athletic Trainer Excellence Award,” said CEO Perry.  

Perry Weather is a leading weather monitoring platform which is designed to help ensure athletic safety across school districts nationwide. They are committed to gathering weather data as well as recognizing the critical role athletic trainers play in athlete’s safety and well-being. To read more about the Athletic Trainer Excellence Award, CLICK HERE.