Laura Bush is the associate head volleyball coach for the University of Minnesota and in her sixth year with the Golden Gopher volleyball program. Being the Gopher interim head coach until Hugh McCutcheon arrived with the program in August of 2012, Bush has nine years of head coaching experience at Auburn (2002-07) and Marquette (1999-2001). She has also gone to the Final Four with three different Big Ten programs. Bush went as a player for Illinois in 1987 & 88, as an assistant coach from Michigan State in 1995, and with Minnesota in 2009. She arrived in 2008 and helped lead the Gophers to an 81-25 record in those seasons, a 45-15 Big Ten mark, a Final Four in 2009, two NCAA Regionals, and pair of second-place finishes in conference play.
Laura was good enough to sit down with Winthrop’s managing editor, Ryan Matthews, to discuss recruiting young players and digital communication, in addition to the success she and the University of Minnesota have had on the on the court.
Follow Win AD‘s Coach Twitter channel – Helping NCAA coaches stay at the top of their game.
What has surprised you most about working as a coach?
For college volleyball, the early verbal commitment is a trend that I did not foresee when I started coaching. Many young players (9th /10th grade), for a variety of reasons, appear to know where they want to spend their collegiate academic and athletic lives at the age of fourteen. Is this decision surprising? A little bit. Is the surprise that parents support this? A little bit. Is the surprise that high school/club coaches support it? A little bit. Is it a surprise that college coaches have gone along with this trend? Not at all.
What is the most critical characteristic or leadership quality required in your position?
To limit leadership to just one quality really shortchanges leaders. So maybe the best way to describe a leadership quality is to wear many hats well and to respond to the issues at hand while wearing those hats in a consistent manner.
How has the need for information and data evolved during the tenure at both your current position and in the span of your career?
We are able to have up-to-date information for every aspect of our job immediately. Match videos from around the world are easily accessed. Communication has expanded from land line and postal mail, to cell phones, skype, and email. I was recently speaking to someone about the advancement of recruiting software to track prospective student-athletes at a tournament with over 1,000 volleyball players.
When I started coaching, the large booklets for a tournament schedule and for player rosters required some serious pre-recruiting day preparation. Now, it is a matter of downloading the information on a handheld device to find the prospective student-athlete’s court and the time she plays. I would not ever want to return to the large booklet days, but there is something missed by not ever having to do the exercise.
Who are some other coaches or leaders today that inform your coaching style?
Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people and coaches. Chuck Erbe, Hugh McCutcheon, and Mike Hebert are the three that stand out as the most influential in my career, in all facets of the game and role.
What are some success stories for your program and for yourself professionally?
The University of Minnesota has tremendous volleyball success both in the classroom and on the court. Many NCAA appearances, Final Four berths, and 100% graduation rates. Professionally, I am very thankful for the experiences and to be on the current staff at the U.