COACH PHIL BRUSCA TO BE HONORED

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At 90 years old, most people would be ready to spend their days with their feet up. However, Phil Brusca is not like most people. After 40 years of coaching track—32 of those years as a coach at Ladue Horton Watkins High School—Phil still hasn't hung up his track shoes!  Not only does he start every day with exercise, he is a regular at local and regional athletic competitions and has a huge collection of medals, plaques, and other awards recognizing his wins. Phil finished 2016 with a U.S. Masters Athlete top-10 national ranking in shot put, discus, hammer throw, javelin throw and weight throw and was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame. This year, he has already competed in four Masters events, placing first in several categories. “Being 90 means there is very little competition,” he says modestly, but the nonagenarian who looks decades younger has a lot to be proud of. 
 
Phil’s love of sports and his road to coaching started when he returned to Missouri after serving in the military during World War II.  His service earned him 3 ½ years of free college tuition, which he spent at the University of Missouri-Columbia, majoring in physical education. With one semester needed to graduate, his track coach helped him obtain a scholarship, and he completed his degree. After graduating, he stayed in the Columbia area for eight years, coaching at two of the local high schools. During his time in Columbia, he coached an Olympic Medal winner, and then, “Ladue came knocking, and I came home to St. Louis and stayed at Ladue High School for 32 years,” he says. “I could have retired 10 years earlier, but I loved what I was doing!”
 
Phil’s success at Ladue did not go unnoticed by other schools in the area. “I was offered jobs elsewhere, including at junior colleges, but I didn’t go,” he says.  He felt LHWHS was home. “At Ladue you get top kids who excel. They become professionals like doctors and lawyers and even professional athletes,” he explains. That educational environment made for better teams to coach, he says. The physical environment at the high school also set the school apart. “When I started, the track was made of cinder,” he says. “Dr. Nicholas, the superintendent, set out to build a new track with eight lanes.” However, during that time, there was a flood that caused damage to the school and the budget was cut. “So the track went from eight lanes to six, but six was better than zero!” Phil remembers.
 
When he’s not attending LHWHS class reunions to catch up with his former students or watching the citywide track invitational event that is his namesake, you can find Phil on that same Ladue track, practicing for his Masters events.  “Life has been wonderful for me,” he says. “Having the knowledge that I taught students well enough that their experiences with me could help shape their future in a positive way is the best and most satisfying reward I could ask for.”

The LEF is thrilled to honor Coach Phil at the Annual Community Breakfast on October 6. If you’d like to include a quote about Phil in a book that will be presented to him, please email lef@ladueschools.net. Photos for a slideshow and/or collage are also being collected and can be sent to lef@ladueschools.net.