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Kutztown’s Bushe Is Second To None
August 24, 2010

Jersey Shore Boca U23 standout and Kutztown University senior defender Kelly Bushe shares her thoughts and ambitions as she begins her final college season with the Golden Bears in this feature by Rob Knox, KU’s sports information director. Bushe, a Neptune City native, has been a key member of the Boca U23 women’s team for several years which captured back-to-back MSSL Cup championships in 2009 and 2010.
Kutztown’s Bushe is Second to None

By Rob Knox
Sports Information Director
Kutztown University
Published August 24, 2010

KUTZTOWN, PA (August 24, 2010) – Don’t let the sensational smile, pearly white teeth, black curly hair, affable attitude and neatly polished nails fool you. Kutztown University senior women’s soccer player Kelly Bushe likes to get down-and-dirty and is a pretty fiery competitor, who could start a fight in an empty room.

However, her day isn’t complete unless her white uniform is caked with brown dirt and streaks of green grass. Losing is not an option for Bushe, who has to win in everything. One-on-one’s in practice, intra-squad scrimmages, checkers, Connect Four. You name it and Bushe’s competitive drive will not allow her to finish second.

Bushe, who has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, is one of the captains and anchors of Kutztown’s lockdown defensive unit. She was one of the many key reasons why the Golden Bears enjoyed a memorable 2009 season in which it won a school record 15 matches, posted a program best 13 shutouts, participated in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship game and qualified for the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional tournament.

She would like nothing more to finish her senior season with a bang and lift the Kutztown University women’s soccer program, ranked 22nd in the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America (NSCAA) preseason top 25 poll, to greater heights this season.

“When you’re a defender, it’s your job to ruin somebody’s day and I love that,” Bushe said. “I love defense because all of the pressure is on you. When a forward gets the ball, nobody expects them to get around you and when they do, it’s like a great job. It’s the best feeling to win the ball and take it up the field. Or to win it and pass it to one of my teammates and get possession back for your team. I love it.”

Bushe enjoys being in the background for the Golden Bears. She uses her quick feet, inane instincts and competitive desire to win many 50-50 balls. Bushe is fortunate to have sweeper Chelsea Deeter, who is one of the best women’s soccer players in the country, and Kelly Rozembersky, who was named a PSAC East second team selection last year, as defensive teammates. So really, Bushe is just another cog in the Golden Bears straitjacket-like defense.

“I try to lead by example,” Bushe said. “Playing soccer has been the best years of my life. I’ve been so sad lately because I know this is the beginning of the end of my soccer career. I wish I could play here for the rest of my life. Playing here and having somebody like coach Erik Burstein set the bar high makes you strive for something and that has fueled me to working harder and being better for my teammates.”

A psychology major, Bushe couldn’t stay away from the soccer field this summer as she partnered with teammates Deeter, Carolynne Kahl, Jen Tice, Jen Pyne, Laura Hearn and Shannon Pennock to lead their Lakewood, NJ-based club team, Boca, to its second consecutive championship. It was the first time in that club’s history it had won two straight titles.

Winning is nothing to new to Bushe, who has helped the Golden Bears to 37 victories during her time in the maroon-and-gold. Burstein was thrilled that one of his former assistant coaches recommended he take a chance on Bushe when he began his coaching tenure with the Golden Bears in 2007. For Burstein, adding Bushe was like finding a winning $307 million lottery ticket in his sweatpants’ pocket.

“I never saw Kelly play until she arrived for pre-season practices,” Burstein said. “When I took the job at KU, most of the recruiting had already been done, but I was looking to add a few more players to the 2007 class before moving on. One of my former assistant coaches at Rutgers-Newark knew Kelly and had seen her play several times. He said to me, ‘this kid can play and she has a huge upside.’ He was not kidding.”

Bushe has enjoyed her share of big moments during her career. She has nine career goals, including two game-winning goals. Bushe scored five goals last year. She scored at least one goal in three straight games for the Golden Bears, including the game-winner against Millersville. In the second meeting against Mansfield, Bushe also recorded her first assist of the season. She also tallied goals against East Stroudsburg in a PSAC quarterfinal contest.

Everything hasn’t been easy for Bushe, who had to learn the hard way to balance academics and athletics. After a tough first semester in the classroom, Bushe diligently applied herself to her studies, found a routine that resulted in her being named a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) scholar-athlete and to the Dean’s List on multiple occassions. She is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). The success in the classroom eventually transferred to the soccer field.

“Her biggest improvement/achievement since coming to KU has been her overall mental development,” Burstein said. “In the beginning Kelly struggled to deal with poor performances, bad touches on the field, giving the ball away during training and games and failing to live up to her high expectations/standards. However, after two years of working at it, Kelly has become a very complete player. Once Kelly conquered the mental side of playing at this level, she was able to focus on improving her game, and the results have been truly amazing.”

Bushe’s versatility is also an asset for the Golden Bears. She can play any position on the field. While she enjoyed playing center-mid early in her career, the defensive side is where Bushe’s heart was. This season, she knows the Golden Bears have a target on their backs. While Kutztown is happy with the preseason recognition, Bushe has her sights on something bigger.

“We expect the same things as last year and to keep winning,” Bushe said. “We’re honored to be ranked 22nd in the nation, but we’re focused on doing better than that. We’re aspiring to be number 1.”

Bushe will stop at nothing to make sure that becomes a reality.

Kutztown University
Published August 24, 2010