June 18, 2014 10:53:23 AM
You only need to call Bruce Allsup to tell he is back doing what he feels is in "his blood."
A quick listen to the voice mail greeting that begins with, "Coach Allsup" indicates the former Heritage Academy and Brookhaven Academy basketball coach will be back on the sidelines later this year.
On Monday, Allsup started his new job as boys basketball coach at Starkville Academy. On Tuesday, Starkville Academy Athletic Director Glenn Schmidt announced the hiring of Allsup was official.
"I really am excited about coach Allsup," said Schmidt, who also is the school's girls basketball coach. "He has 24 years of basketball experience and is just a super guy and a proven winner. I am glad it all worked out. The timing was perfect. He wanted to get back into coaching."
Allsup replaces Mark Alexander, who left the school to take a job as an assistant girls basketball coach at Madison-Ridgeland Academy. Schmidt said the position had been open for more than two weeks as she tried to find the right fit for the program and the school.
Allsup, who had a full-time job as a sporting goods salesman based out of Columbus, said he missed coaching "terribly" and accepted the job offer to be a science teacher and the school's new boys basketball coach. He also will coach the junior high boys basketball team and the school's golf team.
"I just think (coaching) is in my blood. It is a calling to coach," Allsup said. "I am 52 years old and I think I have another good run in me. I couldn't have a better place to go and a better person to go to work with than coach Schmidt. She has had such a successful program. My goal and desire is to get the boys program to where she has hers."
Allsup said the timing was right to jump back into coaching. In April 2011, Allsup lost his job as girls basketball coach and athletic director at Heritage Academy. His position was one of several that was cut from kindergarten through 12th grade at the private school in Columbus. He said at the time he was "shocked" and that he had no idea the change was coming. He guided the Heritage Academy girls basketball team to an 18-15 record and a runner-up finish in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, Division II state title game in his final season.
Allsup spent seven years at Heritage Academy, and was a coach at North Delta in Batesville before spending 10 years at Pillow Academy and three more at Kirk Academy. He went on to spend one year as girls basketball coach at Brookhaven Academy before becoming a sporting goods salesman. He said he felt "whole again" Monday when he put his whistle around his neck before his first practice at Starkville Academy.
"I just felt right," Allsup said. "I was humbled at the same time to back in coaching."
Allsup was never far from basketball. He was a regular at girls and boys basketball games in the area the past few years. He said he found himself being a coach in the stands and going over scenarios and plays he might have selected to counter what he had just seen. He said he is delighted to have found something in the Golden Triangle that will allow him to stay in Columbus.
"Once you have been a coach you always feel like you're a coach," said Allsup, who admitted he changed his voice mail greeting earlier in the week. "When I put that whistle on and I walked on the floor Monday I felt whole again. It was a good feeling. It is something that gives me a lot of pleasure to take kids and motivate them and teach them to be the best basketball player they can be and the best person they can be."
Schmidt also is excited because she feels Allsup is a coach who stresses the fundamentals just like she does. She feels Allsup's familiarity with the MAIS from years of coaching boys and girls basketball teams will help him make a smooth transition to the school. She also thanked Alexander for his three years at the school.
"It was a pleasure to work with Mark Alexander," Schmidt said. "He is a true basketball guru. He did some things for our program that I think will make it easier for coach Allsup to continue. I enjoyed working with Mark. He was a good friend. He was a lot of help to me and did a lot of scouting. He is a good man, a good friend, and a good basketball coach.
"It was one of those timing things that as often happens in life when you know something is right when it all happens at the right time. (Allsup) is a good friend. He has been across the court from me as the opposing coach. I know a lot of people who know him and I even had several phone calls from people who said, 'You're looking for a coach. You need to call Bruce.' ... It was great timing for Starkville Academy and Bruce Allsup."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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