08/08/06 — Life's a beach for Busch

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Life's a beach for Busch

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on August 8, 2006 2:21 PM

After finishing her collegiate career among the NCAA career kills leaders and the only three-time volleyball All-American in Mount Olive College and Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference history, Heidi Busch has been spending the summer of 2006 on the beach. In fact, she's been on a different "beach" each weekend this summer.

Busch is performing an internship with the AVP Crocs Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, working with the operations department. Through her internship, she has been at every tour event this summer, including stops at Santa Barbara, Calif.; Tempe, Ariz.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Atlanta, Ga. Future stops include Cincinnati, Ohio, and Las Vegas, Nev., before concluding the season in mid-September in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Busch works with both the men's and women's tours. Both tournaments are held concurrently at each site.

Busch spends the beginning of each week at the AVP office in Los Angeles, then flies out to that week's tour event, which runs from Thursday through Saturday. Her duties include ... well, it may be easier to list what isn't included.

"I kind of get to do a lot of everything," said Busch, who was preparing for the AVP Birmingham-Hoover Open in Birmingham, Ala., at the time of the interview. "I started off as a roster coordinator. In the office, I'm helping prepare for upcoming events. At the events, I'm doing a lot of behind the scenes work."

Busch added, "Most of the work takes place prior to and during the early part of each event. Once it gets to Saturday, we actually have a chance to watch some volleyball."

Being on the sidelines watching volleyball is unfamiliar territory for Busch, who competed in all 151 matches during her four years at Mount Olive, playing in 520 of 523 games. The Trojans compiled a record of 109-42 (.722) during Busch's career, the highest four-year win total and winning percentage in school history. Busch ranks fifth in NCAA Division II volleyball history with 2,456 career kills.

"It's hard for me to watch volleyball and not be out there playing," said Busch. "We'll usually try to play some pick-up games at the end of the day."

But Busch is quick to admit that if she is going to watch volleyball instead of play volleyball, watching the best in the world isn't all that bad.

"It is so cool to see volleyball played at this level," said Busch. "I have so much respect for the players. This is a very demanding sport and they are in outstanding shape."

Busch's work hasn't gone unnoticed by the tour players, including the AVP's all-time career money winner.

"Heidi has been a great addition to the tour this year," said four-time tour MVP and three-time Olympian Holly McPeak. "The AVP interns are some of the most hardworking individuals around and the AVP Crocs Tour wouldn't be the same without them."

Busch says that watching the pros compete is topped only by getting to know the players personally.

"I've met a lot of the tour players and have gotten to develop a number of friendships," said Busch. "All of the players are very down to earth."

Busch notes that pro beach volleyball players are among the most fan-friendly sports starts.

"All of the players on the tour are very accessible," said Busch. "They have great interaction with the fans. Misty (May-Treanor) and Kerri (Walsh) will hang around long after the match and sign autographs for anyone and everyone who wants one." Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and are the AVP Tour's top money winners for the second year in a row.

Busch began her internship in late April, just before the end of the spring semester. A little bit of initiative on Busch's part helped her land the internship.

"I knew I needed an internship to graduate and I wanted to stay involved in volleyball," recalled Busch. "The AVP came to mind, so I got in touch with them. I interviewed and got the position."

Once Busch concludes her internship in early fall, she will have finished all of her degree requirements. She'll officially receive her degree in sports management in December.

While she hasn't ruled out returning to Mount Olive or her hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., Busch says for now she plans to stay in Los Angeles after her internship is completed.

"I've hardly gotten to see any of California since I moved here because of all the traveling," said Busch. "I'd like to stay here for a while. I might attend grad school out here."

Busch hopes the internship is the first step towards a career in volleyball.

"I've been able to do some networking and make connections," said Busch. "We'll see what it leads to."