Payton McClintock


On any given day in TWHS, you are bound to see a random handful of students sporting “GussStrong” t-shirts in the halls.  The meaning behind these shirts is incredibly significant. However, it’s legacy is likely to fade as years go by and new students filter through Thomas Worthington.

Stephen Gussler was both a teacher and baseball coach at TWHS.  During his time coaching baseball, the team won 262 games in 16 seasons and led the Cardinals to their first district championship since 1981.  Gussler was later named The Dispatch All-Metro Coach of the Year as well as Division I state coach of the year.  His upbeat and positive personality inspired many who surrounded him.

Gussler was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2008 and was given nine to 12 months to live.  He far outlived this timeline, however the disease claimed him in 2014 at the age of 43.  His legacy is carried on by his wife, who also teaches at TWHS, and his three children.

When the GussStrong Foundation is mentioned in class, it was followed by many questions and murmurs of confusion.  Underclassmen are no longer aware of Gussler’s story or his involvement in the school.  The current senior class is the last to have attended Thomas while Gussler was still alive, what will keep his story going?  Who will remind others of the history and meaning behind the infamous GussStrong shirts?

Senior Trent Castle looks back on Gussler’s impact, “After his passing, the community came together on the TWHS baseball field and those who wanted to tell stories or memories of Guss could do so over the speakers in the press box.  It was incredible to see the influence he had on the entire town, and that influence deserves to last generations.”