by Tiara Pajimola
Men’s head soccer coach Sean Bushéy has decided to pursue another job opportunity in Denver, Colo., after 17 successful years at Whitworth University. This is the second head coach resignation this year, with volleyball coach Steve Rupe being the first. Athletic director Aaron Leetch has a vital role in the search to replace the coaches.
Coaching positions are never set in stone, Leetch said.
“When people are that involved, you just never know,” Leetch said. “It’s not common or uncommon. Each person had different reasons for leaving and so we’ll support their decisions to do that.”
The decision wasn’t easy for Bushéy.
“This is an emotional time,” Bushéy said. “[The team] gives so much for the program. They gave a lot of satisfaction and joy to me and to give that up or to move away from that, that’s hard.”
The men’s soccer team was gathered for a meeting they assumed was a reminder to stay on top of their workouts, when not only Bushéy but also Leetch walked through the door.
“That normally doesn’t happen,” junior Anders Nostdahl said. “We thought it was the normal meeting that happens around this time to discuss spring training. He usually tells us if we haven’t been training for the conditioning class we need to start working. At first he just greeted us and then he just paused for a really long time.”
Bushéy knew this was going to be tough news for the team.
“It’s not news they were expecting,” Bushéy said. “At that point it becomes a shock to the system. It’s a challenge to soak in all at once.”
And it was challenging for the men’s team including freshman Karl Muelheims, a graduate of Saint George’s School in Spokane. Muelheims is a Spokane player who has been raised in soccer programs, such as the Spokane Shadow, under Bushéy for the majority of his career.
“I was pretty bummed for the team but I was excited for him,” Muelheims said. “I’ve been indirectly coached by [Bushéy] since fourth grade; I didn’t expect it.”
During the meeting, the team was reminded of the philosophy that Bushéy will leave at Whitworth.
“He talked about Whitworth as a soccer program and how it isn’t designed around one person or coach,” Nostdahl said. “When you have a good program, it’ll last through anything.”
Although the team does not get to ultimately decide who is hired for the position, they will have some input based on their impressions of each candidate.
“The team will be able to provide feedback,” Leetch said. “They do have a voice in the process.”
Next year’s returners hope to see somebody with many similar qualities to Bushéy.
“I hope he shares the same passion,” Muelheims said. “Sean definitely brings a certain element to the game that not a lot of coaches have and it’s incredible.”
“I’d like the new coach to keep the essence of soccer and have the passion close to what Sean did for the game,” Nostdahl said.
Bushéy said he has confidence in the program for the coming years.
“The players that have been here have done great things,” Bushéy said. “The players that are here are good people, they are talented and I think that momentum will move forward.”
Bushéy had a huge impact on many men on the team, including Nostdahl.
“He just instilled a lot of values and a lot of character in me,” Nostdahl said. “Every year we lose players and losing a coach is just like losing another guy.”
His impact was noticed beyond the men he coached, Leetch noted.
“The biggest part of it for me is he has left a positive long-lasting impact and influence on so many young men and that lives forever. That does not change,” Leetch said. “All the successes he had on the field hail in comparison to those young men. He helped mold their lives and that’s what’s important.”
Bushéy will leave behind many memories including his eight Northwest Conference titles and seven appearances in the NCAA tournament. He will continue to coach for the remainder of the year for the men’s spring training season as well as teaching multiple spring semester athletic courses.
At the end of the school year, Bushéy and his family will move to Colorado. There he will take over as the director of coaching of the Senior Academy for the Colorado Rush youth soccer organization.
“It’s not an easy decision but I think it was a unique opportunity to really go work alongside my brother,” Bushéy said. “The opportunity presented itself and it was just the right time to look and contemplate it. Change is hard. Leaving Whitworth is hard. But I feel that there are means and mechanisms that will carry God’s will there too.”
Although the change will be hard and will impact many people, Bushéy said his family will be united again.
“The boys will all be together and mom will have her older son,” Bushéy said. “I have a core belief in who they are and what the Whitworth men’s soccer program is and I believe in the strength of that.”
After many years of involvement with Whitworth soccer, Bushéy said he will still be a fan of the Pirate soccer program.
“It culminates to 17 years of all the different players that have come through the program and you start to feel a sense of loss,” Bushéy said. “I’ll certainly continue to be a Whitworth soccer fan. [My time] here has helped mold me into who I am as a father and husband and it’s been a great experience.”
The soccer program and Whitworth as a school have been made better by Bushéy’s time as a coach, Leetch said.
“For him to go work with his family, his brother and his son is something that would be difficult for anybody to pass up,” Leetch said. “Sean is a leader not only of our soccer program but for our department and institution. He has been someone who has taken a program and built and built. That program is in such great shape and it’s because of him.”
Contact Tiara Pajimola at email@example.com