It won’t be long before Bishop England High School student-athletes will be able to hop on the Russ Bus. There will be much to discuss, such as Wifi and other creature comforts. But the keys to this machine, will not be free.
Sound like a bad parody of a 1970s Paul Simon song?
In reality, the Russ Bus will be the latest activity vehicle in the Battling Bishops’ transportation fleet. The bus will be the perfect way to remember Russell McLaughlin, a 2019 graduate of BE, who was a star on the soccer pitch. He died tragically over the summer.
It was a common occurrence for McLaughlin to set the team’s defense by yelling “bus” in reference to the soccer term “Parking the bus.” That’s a strategy where a team packs its defense near its goal to preserve a lead late in the game.
Hearing McLaughlin yell “Bus” was so repetitive and part of the Bishops’ soccer psyche that he earned the nickname “Russ Bus.” When he passed away, his friends thought the Russ Bus made perfect sense to remember him and help the school get a new activities bus, which is badly needed.
Paul Runey is the athletic director of Bishop England, and one of the many hats he wears is travel agent, uh make that travel coordinator of the school’s varsity and junior varsity teams. He’s not sure how many miles the school travels to participate in sporting events. But he has $40,000 budgeted for fuel and bus maintenance.
The primary mode of transportation for the Bishops is the Father Kelly Express, a 20-something-year-old modified school bus named for the beloved former rector of the school. Runey also arranges for the use of the school’s micro buses and will even schedule carpools to get the Bishops where they need to be.
“Russ Bus” is a fundraiser to give the Bishops a somewhat state of the art bus for the teams to travel in their quests for more state championships. State of the art in this case, is a rear-wheel drive bus, which is easier for the coaches to drive. It also is state of the art because it has Wifi, which gives the student-athletes access to the internet to do homework on those long, late-night trips.
The price tag for the bus will hover around the $150,000 mark. Teammates, classmates, and other member of the Bishop England family have responded to keep McLaughlin’s legacy alive. To date, the school has raised $108,625 for the new wheels.
Runey said it is a testament for the love of McLaughlin.
“He was one of those kids that the other kids looked up to,” Runey said. “The other kids were attracted to him and he showed great senior leadership. The bottom line is they respected him because he led by example.”
No donation is too big or too small. More than 300 alumni, teammates, family and friends have already given $20 in memory of what would have been Russ’s 20th birthday on Aug. 31.
The goal is to reach $150,000 by soccer season.
For more information on donating to the Russ Bus fund, call Paul Runey at 843.296-5113 or Triple B Booster Club president Maureen Runey at 843.412-4985.