In her eighth full year on the beach, former Longhorns All-American Carrie Busch is making a name for herself. The 5'11" Milwaukee, Wis., native led the 1995 Texas volleyball squad to the Final Four en-route to garnering Second-Team All-America honors as a setter. After finishing her collegiate career she packed her bags and headed for the sun-filled skies of California to pursue her dream of playing professional beach volleyball. That move has proven to be great for Busch as she has made steady improvements to her game throughout her career, winning the AVP's "Best Setter" honor in 2002 and ranking fourth in the overall AVP team rankings with her playing partner Nancy Mason in 2004.
Longhorns fans can catch Busch in action when the AVP Nissan Series rolls into town for the Austin Open, April 29-May 1, at Auditorium Shores Park (950 West Riverside Dr.). Qualifying matches will be played on Friday, April 29 and Main Draw competition will take place on Saturday, April 30. Both the men's and women's finals will be contested on Sunday, May 1. The Austin stop of the AVP Tour is the third of the season.
Recently TexasSports.com was caught up with the Texas Ex after a day of training at the beach to talk about her college years, life in the sand and coming back to Austin to play in the AVP Nissan Series Austin Open next weekend, April 29-May 1.
Looking back at your Texas career, what is most memorable for you?
Carrie Busch: My career is very memorable and especially the Final Four in 1995. We beat Stanford and lost to Nebraska in the final, but it was still an incredible moment. But, going to Texas my freshman year and having a whole new school, a huge campus and so much Longhorns gear everywhere was not something that I was not used to. The whole experience was kind of an awakening, but I would not trade that experience for anything. It was a great experience and there was always or something going on and some kind of energy on the campus, which was really awesome for me.
What valuable learning experiences did you take with you from your career at Texas and how have you applied those things to your post-collegiate career?
CB: Coach Mick Haley was always very big on education and everyone finishing school. I obviously wanted to finish school and get my degree, which I did, but he was also very supportive of me wanting to play volleyball after college. He supported me whether I wanted to go over to Europe to play, or whatever I decided to do. When I told him that I was going to try to play on the beach he was really supportive and that was something that was a big help for me, since I didn't have my family in Texas with me to support me. It was a big boost to hear him tell me that he thought I could do it and that he thought I should do it. His support gave me some courage to move to California, which was big because I had never really even been to California.
Since your time on the Forty Acres you have obviously had some great experiences playing volleyball. Talk a little about your life and the path that your career has led you down.
CB: I decided to come play on the beach because I had really had enough of indoor volleyball and how hard it is on the body. The beach has really been great for me. Not many people can say that they wake up in the morning and put on a swimsuit or shorts and a t-shirt and go out to work. ... I don't have to commute or anything. It is really an ideal situation. I have also had the opportunity to travel to professional beach tournaments in Europe and see the world. Volleyball has obviously given me a lot.
Tell us a little about your career on the beach and all of the opportunities that you have had that you may have never experienced otherwise.
CB: I think the fact that I have gotten to travel to places like Norway, Brazil and Greece and see places with such history and incredible sites that most people will never see in their lifetime. I love the competition and the high that volleyball gives me as far as the thrill of competing and playing, but at the same time, it gives me the opportunity to go to different places, see different things and also meet some pretty incredible people. When you go around to some of the European and International tournaments, you are around a lot of the same people every weekend, so you have the opportunity to experience different cultures. I try to get as much as I can out of it, not just the volleyball, but other aspects, as well.
Are you able to keep up with the current Longhorns team?
CB: Yeah. I try to keep up as much as I can. I know that Coach (Jerritt) Elliott has done a great job in turning the UT program around. Every once in a while, I get to see some Texas people at tournaments that I coach at. I still do try to keep up with the team though, but with my schedule it makes it hard to get down there to see any matches. Although, I heard there is an alumni get-together this weekend, and I would love to go and see everyone. Unfortunately, I have a tournament and I won't be able to go.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your old Texas teammates?
CB: Oh yeah. I am still very close with Angie (Breitenfield) Platt, who is still one of my best friends. I saw her this past weekend when I flew into Dallas for my sister's baby shower. There are a couple of others here and there that I see or talk to and I also keep up with some of the girls that my sister (Nikki Busch) played with and talk with them whenever I have the chance.
Is it special to have the chance to come back to Austin when the tour comes to town? What do you enjoy about that opportunity?
CB: It is incredibly special for me to have the chance to come back, especially for the girl who had to leave Texas and go to California to play beach volleyball. I am very appreciative that the AVP finally got Austin back on their schedule. It is obviously a fun town, there is always something going on, and for me it's a second home. I have always wanted to go to back to Austin as much as I can, and the opportunity to come see my sister and Angie Breitenfield and have them come support me is a great experience. I also enjoy the opportunity to go back over to campus and to eat at some of my favorite Austin restaurants when I am in town.