Lineman ready for next step

AUSTINTOWN — Nick Bush stood in the middle of Austintown Fitch’s football field with a red cast covering his lower arm and hand.

He feels weird shaking hands with his left hand, so he outstretches his hardened limb.

It’s something that has since transformed into a playing cast, which allows him to resume practice with the Falcons — something that gives coach Phil Annarella some peace of mind.

Looking back on the hand injury, which extended his fingers and eventually broke his second metatarsal, it reminds the Fitch senior lineman of his visit to the Air Force Academy.

He was doing a one-on-one pass blocking drill when he overextended his hand and heard the break. It didn’t deter Bush’s experience in Colorado. In fact, it reinforced his passion to be part of a military academy.

The 6-foot-4, 267-pound lineman is pursing the paperwork for nominations into the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy or Military Academy.

He stresses these academies aren’t people walking around with guns. It’s like a normal college setting with more responsibilities and regimen than most.

Some nights you might get 2 to 3 hours sleep, which is required to get your homework done and stay on top of all of your duties.

“You really have to manage your time,” Bush said. “At the academies you have to wake up at 5:30, 6 a.m. Every morning. You have to line up outside and march to breakfast. Everybody eats at the same time. You can’t miss any meals. After that you go to class. Everybody goes to class at the same time. It’s like you can’t slack off. They take attendance, unlike most universities.

“You’re required to go and you have to manage your time really well.”

It takes a special person to be in one of these prestigious institutions.

Bush, who carries a 3.7 GPA, thinks having a coach like Annarella helped him achieve these goals.

“You have to stay in line with him,” Bush said of Annarella. “He checks grades weekly. If you slip up a little bit, you’re either going to be running or he might even throw you out if it’s bad enough. You really have to stay on top of your grades and make sure you have everything done outside of the football field.”