The era of one of Cushing High School's most successful football coaches has come to an end.
Barrett Shupe announced that he is stepping down from his coaching position after a 7-year career during which the Tigers have become a football powerhouse. After a bit of a dry spell for the team - finishing 2-8 the season before their new coach arrived - Shupe wasted no time getting them back on track. Beginning his first season in 2011, Shupe led the Tigers to 7 consecutive playoff games, the team's first playoff win in 19 years and their first championship game since 1961 - finishing his Cushing career at a 59-24 record and making him one of the most successsful athletic coaches in the school's history.
While Tiger fans are sad to see the beloved coach step down from his role, he will be leaving the team and assistant coaching staff in great shape to move forward to class 4A next season as he graciously accepts a job offer from lifelong friend, Dr. Travis Burkett, as Director of Operations at Drumright Dental Center. The opportunity will allow the former coach to remain in Cushing and spend more time with his wife, Jodie, 9 year old daughter, Rylie, and 2 year old son, Owen. Shupe's continued presence in the community brings a measure of joy with the unexpected news. In Barrett Shupe's own words - "Bitter sweet."
"We love our community and we love being here," Shupe says in the week following his official resignation. "We love being Cushing Tigers. I can't imagine coaching anywhere else. I want my kids to be in Cushing."
"A situation has come up that's good for his family and it's good for his well-being," says Cushing High School Principal, Jim Laurman. "Opportunities like it don't come around very often and it'll allow him to stay here in Cushing and see more of his family. We (CHS Administrative staff) are proud and happy for him."
In a facebook post regarding Shupe's new position as Director of Operations, Drumright Dental Center staff said, "We are so proud to announce that Barrett Shupe will be joining our office here at Drumright Dental Center. We cannot be more excited. Barrett is a proven leader and winner."
The resignation leaves some big shoes to fill, and Shupe admits that he's as anxious as anyone to see who will take his place as head football coach for the Tigers next season. Cushing High School Athletics Director, Barry Patterson, advised RDMG correspondants that 42 applications were received for the position, which administrative staff have narrowed down to 4 candidates considered the best potential fit for the role. The 4 applicants have already been interviewed and Patterson advises that a final decision will be made as early as this upcoming week. In response to rumors circulating about many out of state applications submitted, Patterson said, "We did have a few applications from Arkansas and Texas and we are interviewing one from Arkansas. However, he (the applicant) spent the majority of his career in Oklahoma."
So while we all bid an overwhelmingly fond farewell to Coach Barrett Shupe on the football field, he will remain in the stands with his family and other Cushing fans to cheer the Tigers to many more victories to come.