Emeritus, In Memorium
Brent Rushall was born in Sydney, Australia on the day World War II started. His father enlisted in the Australian Armed Services, which meant his family moved frequently around Australia for the five-year duration of the conflict. After the war, Brent was fortunate to be schooled in a selective elementary school (Woolahra Primary School) and selective high school (Sydney Boys’ High School). During his high school years, Brent achieved significantly in Combined High Schools’ and Great Public Schools’ sports. Upon graduating from high school, he earned a Commonwealth Scholarship to study Medicine and a Teachers’ College Scholarship to specialize in physical education.
Dr. Rushall elected to study Physical Education and graduated top of his class with the first Honour’s Diploma in Physical Education from Sydney Teachers’ College in 1960. For the next three years, he taught at the Sydney Boys’ High School in physical education and mathematics. He was very successful coaching rowing, rugby union football, and athletics. He was Rowing Master for three years. His fourth year of teaching was at Birrong High School also in Sydney. During this four-year period, Dr. Rushall studied at night at the University of Sydney to major in Psychology. As well, he was Assistant-head Coach at the Forbes and Ursula Carlile School of Swimming. Also during this time, Brent and friends experimented with shapes and performance characteristics of surf boards, and participated in the activities of the newly-developed Soldiers Breach Surf Life-saving Club north of Sydney. With four of his swimmers being selected for the 1964 Australian Olympic Games Team and a desire to travel and study overseas, Brent was offered a scholarship to Indiana University to work with the fabled swimming coach Dr. James “Doc” Counsilman and to undertake post-graduate studies.
At Indiana University, Dr. Rushall earned a Master of Science with Honors degree in the field of work-physiology, a rare distinction that was deemed appropriate by the faculty of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. He then went on to complete the Doctor of Physical Education requirements but never went through graduation. He opted to study more and become the first student to graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Human Performance, which had very recently been established. Those PhD studies were primarily in the areas of behavioral/operant psychology and the statistical analyses of multivariate data. During those Indiana days, Dr. Rushall was a graduate-assistant in the Research Computing Center where he developed the first complete computer system for human biomechanical analysis. He also represented Indiana University in Rugby being named the institution’s first First-Team All American by Rugby USA. As well, he was a founding member of the IU Cricket Club, and the school’s swimming teams started their remarkable string of NCAA championships. Five IU swimmers were selected for the 1968 US Olympic Games Team, two of whom won Gold medals.
In the last year of his studies he was appointed Assistant-Professor of Physical Education at Macon Junior College. In 1969, having married his college sweetheart Jane, he returned to Australia to take a position with IBM Australia Ltd as a trainee Systems Engineer. Following an accelerated training program, he completed all the requirements to be appointed as a Systems Engineering Manager, his first task being to lead a group of very talented Systems Engineers to develop and install the computer controlled on-line multi-phasic medical screening system Medicheck. In 1971, Dr. Rushall returned to an academic position as Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He spent four years there teaching, researching, and assisting the Province of Nova Scotia in the development of rowers, swimmers, and rugby players. In the early years, he was fortunate to have Thomas L. McKenzie study with him. Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Rushall became life-long friends and have spent 32+ years as colleagues at SDSU as faculty members and retired-faculty. While at Dalhousie University, Dr. Rushall was appointed as a member of the Game Plan ’76 Committee to guide the development of Canadian sports to ready themselves for the 1976 Olympic Games.
In 1975, Dr. Rushall accepted the Position as Professor of Coaching Theory at Lakehead University in the province of Ontario, Canada. Working only in the graduate program, Dr. Rushall’s research output, graduated Master’s degree students, and consultations with national and professional sporting teams was sustained at a career-high level. He served variously as Chairman of the Department of Athletics and Department of Physical Education, was a consistently elected member of Lakehead’s Academic Senate, represented the institution on a number of Provincial Bodies, and was President of the Lakehead University Faculty Association. During his Lakehead days, he was a staff member for the Canadian National Swimming Team and the Canadian Freestyle Wrestling Teams. Toward the end of his tenure at Lakehead, he served as a staff member of the Canadian Ski-jumping Team, was Team Leader for Canada at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games and was pre-selected to support the National Cross-country Ski Team at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games. During his 14 years in Canada, Dr. Rushall travelled extensively to 19 countries in both sporting and academic circles. His appointment as External Examiner of the University of Nigeria by the Commonwealth Universities Association for a three-year period was an unusual highlight of his career.
In 1985, Dr. Rushall accepted a Professorship at San Diego State University. It was this good fortune that reunited him with Professor Thomas McKenzie. Dr. Rushall’s teaching responsibilities were varied, often filling-in an assignment for which no other faculty member could cover. In the early years, after vigorously promoting sport psychology (later termed performance psychology), elite coaching, and physical education as specialty paths in graduate studies he attracted a number of outstanding international and US students who achieved significantly in their SDSU studies and post-SDSU careers. Also, Dr. Rushall consistently received his College’s merit recognitions which allowed him to once again exploit his background in computers. He developed distance education courses that were on-line and rated as being the very first in Physical Education-related studies. For the first three years at SDSU, Dr. Rushall commuted to mainly Alberta, Canada to fulfill his role as Psychologist of the Canadian Olympic Games Cross-country Ski Team. As well, he was appointed as a member of the OCO ’88 Olympian Committee. In the early 1990s, he commuted for slightly more than two years to the state of New South Wales in Australia as Director of Coaching for the state swimming association (NSWIMMING). His research remained at a very high level and his writings accelerated in many fields. Towards the end of his full-time faculty appointment at SDSU, Dr. Rushall was elected as one of SDSU’s three state senators, an honor and duty he considered to be one of his professional-career’s highlights.
Dr. Rushall retired from SDSU in 2004. Since then he has continued to write and develop tools mainly for use in elite sporting environments. He has continued to produce two web sites that have received prestigious recognitions: the Coaching Science Abstracts (http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/ index.htm) and the Swimming Science Journal (http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/index.htm). In their early years, the amount of activity attracted by those sites was the highest of any SDSU web site and constituted more that 5% of the Academic Computing activity. As well, Dr. Rushall has been extremely productive in book writing. To this day, he has written 59 books and technical manuals, has had 162 refereed articles and book chapters published, and has produced close to 15,000 on-line abstracts and articles. During retirement, Dr. Rushall analyzed the scientific literature as it pertains to swimming training and developed a radically different model for swimming training based solely on science – Ultra-short-Race-pace Training (USRPT). As with any new sweeping innovation, the musings of Nicolo Machiavelli (1446-1507) were shown to be true: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new” (Machiavelli in “The Prince“, Chapter VI, Concerning new principalities which are acquired by one’s own arms and ability.). In recent years, Dr. Rushall’s main activity has been to establish the USRPT International Association Inc. (http://usrptia.org/). He is Chairperson of the Association’s Steering Committee.