When Lakewood High opens its gates in the Fall of 2019, there will be a major change at the school. Athletic director Lisa Busch, who has served in that role for the Lancers for 20 years, stepped down at the end of this school year, and was recognized for her contributions at an emotional end-of-year celebration.
“It’s bittersweet for sure,” said Busch. “It’s a very difficult decision to step down after all that time.”
Busch was a student-athlete herself at Lakewood, and coached tennis during her early days teaching at Lakewood. Even though she had a lot to juggle as a teacher, coach, athletic director, and mother, she said in those early days it seemed very d-able.
“When I first started I had just had Ally, I was teaching, and I was coaching boys’ and girls’ tennis when I became athletic director,” she said. “I was able to juggle all of those things just fine–the job was a lot more simple. A little paperwork, requesting transportation and officials. It has transformed into a much bigger job and responsibility in a lot of ways, and finding time to do that is very difficult.”
Busch said that the additional requirements to clear athletes and coaches, as well as a higher volume of walk-on coaches, have added to the AD responsibility.
“Clerical staff has diminished at the schools as well,” she said. “When we lose somebody we don’t get somebody to replace them–all of that adds up to make it more difficult to navigate.”
At the end of the school year, Lakewood put on a celebration of Busch’s tenure as AD in the school’s gymnasium–her 20 years of service make up nearly a third of the school’s history. The ceremony was attended by all of Lakewood’s teams, coaches, and athletes, who filled the stands in the gym and presented Busch with a quilt made of t-shirts from every program at the school.
The emotional surprise of the event came when CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod made an appearance and presented Busch with an award letter for the CIF-SS Champions For Character Award. The award, which will be formally presented at the CIF-SS’ banquet in the Fall, recognizes those in high school sports who’ve done things the right way.
“That made me feel really good,” said Busch. “I feel like I worked hard and I don’t need a lot of fame for it, but part of my goal was making sure things were done right, and the way they should be. To have that honor meant a lot, especially since it was from Rob, who I’ve known since I was an athlete at Lakewood.”
Busch said seeing her father and Wigod there made it emotional for her as she took a trip down memory lane, from her playing days at Lakewood to the early days teaching and coaching at the schools, when Wigod was a colleague of hers.
“Lisa is a great AD, she’s been a great mentor and friend to me in my time here,” said Lakewood co-AD and girls’ volleyball coach Mike Wadley, who will be the school’s sole athletic director going forward.
For Busch, there will be more free time ahead, which is nice, but also a hole in her schedule.
“I won’t miss all the work, but I’ll miss the Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame and the pancake breakfast we put on and finding other ways to honor our kids and coaches. My real goal was to make sure that coaches and kids didn’t have to worry about anything.”