Duke field hockey's Pam Bustin selected to USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame
The 2013 season was filled with many highlights for Duke field hockey—a shootout defeat of North Carolina, victory in the NCAA semifinals against top-seeded Maryland and a trip to the NCAA championship game for the first time in program history.
Head coach Pam Bustin capped off the academic year with one more triumph—being inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It’s hard to imagine yourself among those people you’ve watched and admired for so long, so it’s a bit of an unrealistic feeling,” Bustin said. “But it’s a huge honor, there’s a lot of emotion and pride mixed in with that.”
Bustin began her field hockey career as a member of the Massachusetts field hockey team from 1985-88. During her sophomore year, Bustin led the Minutemen to their third Final Four in seven seasons, where Massachusetts went on to defeat Iowa in the consolation game for third place in the NCAA tournament. Honored as team captain and team MVP her senior season, Bustin was named a first-team All-American and nominated for the Honda-Broderick Award for the female collegiate athlete of the year.
After graduating, Bustin served as captain of the United States Under-21 team until 1989, when she was named to the United States National Team. She competed with the team until 1996, leading the United States to a fifth place finish at the Atlanta Olympics—the team’s second-highest finish in history.
In 2006, Bustin joined the U.S. National Team as an assistant coach and guided her team to an eighth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I feel very fortunate to have been able to represent the United States,” Bustin said. “It was a huge part of my life from the time I was 19 until I retired at 29 or so, and it remains a huge part of my life to this day.”
Bustin also held coaching duties at Michigan State, Temple and Hofstra, until arriving at Louisville in 1998. In her 13 years with the Cardinals, Bustin compiled 11 winning seasons, including six regular-season conference championships. Bustin won three Conference Coach of the Year Awards—two in the MAC and one after Louisville moved to the Big East.
The Blue Devils came calling when former head coach Beth Bozman resigned from Duke Nov. 12, 2010 after an 8-11 season—the Blue Devils failed to win a single ACC game. Bustin had a reputation for revitalizing programs after helping the Cardinals transform from a program in the middle of a 34-game losing streak to a perennial contender for the Big East crown.
“Obviously the Duke program has a great history of success within the NCAA and a big reason for that is that it’s been able to attract some of the best hockey players in the country,” Bustin said. “You share ideas, you try to show them a path that will hopefully lead to success.”
The Blue Devils turned things around immediately with Bustin at the helm, leading Duke to a 14-8 record in 2011 and the program’s first bid to the NCAA tournament since 2008. She guided the Blue Devils to the Big Dance again in 2013, the program’s first appearance in the championship game. Bustin’s 200th career victory came in Duke’s win against the Terrapins in the NCAA semifinal game, the first time the Blue Devils had beaten Maryland since 2011.
“For me, I’m just going to be happier that the path [the 2013 team] took did give them a chance to win the national championship,” Bustin said. “You think you believe in these things, but they don’t always come together. But what’s so special about 2013 team is that they did.”
Bustin brought a bevy of international experience to Duke, and has helped shape her team into top players not only on the collegiate level, but also on a global scale. In 2012, six Blue Devils competed in the Junior Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. In addition, Stefanie Fee, a senior during Bustin’s first season in Durham, was named to the United States National Team in 2012.
“It was awesome to come in with that experience and see who wants to grab ahold of that and who wants to make it their path, and who wants to learn for it and do the best they can for Duke,” she said. “I’d like to think that my experience and what I’ve learned over the years has been able to help them hopefully reach their own dreams and goals.”
Bustin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame June 28 in Lancaster, Pa.