Senior Sean Busch continued to rake in the accolades in March when, in the space of a few days, he shattered the UMass record in the pole vault and was tabbed as the Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete of the Year for the indoor track and field season. The award follows a 2011 A-10 Title in the pole vault, brought home by Busch on February 18th. The Stow, Mass., native had tied the old school record of 15-9 twice this season and finally broke it on March 5 by soaring over 16 feet and a fraction of an inch. Busch topped off his landmark indoor track and field season by making the Academic All-Conference Team. In the classroom, Busch posted an impressive 3.7 grade point average as a senior electrical engineering major.
“The pole vault is an incredibly difficult event,” he has said. “Every time you compete you want to set a personal record, but that’s not going to happen. The mechanics are so demanding. It takes years to develop good enough mechanics to compete at even a high school level. And it’s very disconcerting to be in that upside down position before you vault toward the bar. The event is all about muscle memory.”
The same kind of balance that helps Sean hover upside down for a tantalizing moment – poised at the slingshot end of a curving, 16-foot-long, fiberglass pole just before being catapulted over the bar – also helps him balance the rest of his life.
“Pole vaulting is something that I am passionate about, but it doesn’t really drive my life,” he said. “I don’t schedule all my time around training, and my parents didn’t drive me to be this accomplished athlete, like some parents do. But it does help me define myself.”
He added that “I do feel I wouldn’t have had the same college experience without pole vaulting. It helps with the stress of a demanding electrical engineering education, which is very technical. Athletics gives me an outlet.” (April 2011)