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Busscher makes successful jump from No. 5 to No. 3
By Jeff Febus

Looking back on her four years at Calvin, Michelle Busscher acknowledges the amount of support she has received both as a student and as an athlete. A native of Whitehall, Mich., Busscher recently completed the double challenge of majoring in nursing and competing as a four-year member of the women’s tennis team.

A graduate of Muskegon Western Michigan Christian High School, Busscher often found herself racing from nursing clinicals to tennis practice, but doing so was made easier by a surrounding cast of teammates, coaches and professors. “It’s challenging to be a nursing major and an athlete, but I was able to do both because of the support I received,” said Busscher. “I had a head coach (Jerry Bergsma) who was always understanding if I had to miss the first 30 minutes of practice because of a class. And my professors were also willing to work with my schedule, particularly if I had to miss a lab or class because of a tennis match.”

She also was able to lean on a pair of tennis teammates who were nursing majors: 2010 graduate Rachel DeGroot and fellow 2011 grad Kaitlin Spoelhof.“I always had someone I could lean on when the workload got heavy and having a teammate in Rachel who was a year ahead of me, I had someone giving me advice on what to expect,” said Busscher.

The tight team bond within the Calvin women’s tennis program is something that Busscher will always treasure and was part of what made her experience at Calvin a special one. “The bulk of our team came to Calvin within a year of each other,” said Busscher.“When I was a freshman we had a big sophomore class, and we really bonded and became a tight group.”

The team put together a stellar three-year run, just missing MIAA titles in 2008 and 2009, finishing second both years. In 2010, Calvin broke the trend, posting an unbeaten 8-0 league record and then capping off an MIAA tournament-title run with a 6-3 victory over Hope in the tournament finals. The victory gave Calvin its first-ever bid to the NCAA III Tournament.

“Coming so close the previous two years made winning the conference that much sweeter,” said Busscher.“Winning a conference championship with the group of people on our team was what made it even more satisfying. We won that championship for each other.”

Busscher played a key role in Calvin’s MIAA-title run in 2010, compiling a 17-5 record at No. 5 singles, a position in Calvin’s lineup that she held during her first three years at Calvin.

As a senior this spring, Busscher was asked to move up to the No. 3 spot in the Calvin singles lineup. Busscher was up to the challenge, compiling a 14-5 singles record, including a 7-1 mark in league play. For her efforts, she was named to the All-MIAA second team.

“It was a big shift,” said Busscher of moving from No. 5 to No. 3 singles. “I was happy with the improvements I made to adjust to a higher level of competition. It was fun, and I was a little surprised at some of the wins that I had this spring.”

Calvin head coach Jerry Bergsma was not surprised with the level of play from Busscher this spring.“Michelle is a very focused competitor, and I knew that she was capable of moving up in our lineup,” he said.“She is very disciplined both on and off the court, and her discipline allowed her to improve not only this year but throughout her career. She was a big part of our team’s success over the last four years, and she will certainly be missed.”

A three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, Busscher graduated this past May. She has accepted a job with St. Mary’s Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids where she will serve as an operating room nurse.