Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Bringing the Bushey legacy back to the club this past year when he returned to Spokane to take on the Whitworth women’s head coaching role Cam Bushey brings a pedigree of coaching excellence and success with him to the sidelines.
The Bushey legacy goes back essentially to the start of everything for the Spokane Sounders / Shadow as Sean Bushey became the head coach of the men’s first team in the USL Premier Development League in the Shadow’s second official season (1997). The club launched the Shadow Youth Soccer Club a few years later and in 2007 Bushey was named the club’s Technical Director, which he served until 2013 when he stepped away from the club and Whitworth coaching positions to join family with the Colorado Rush and later the elite education and sports academy Shattuck-St Mary’s in Minnesota.
With that legacy in front of him it is no surprise he ended up following a similar path coaching youth, a men’s first team and college soccer.
“My dad is the whole reason I became a coach. He showed me what it is to excel in your craft and what it is to care about and serve people. When he noticed I had a gift for leadership and teaching, he encouraged me to pursue this career.”
There are probably countless lessons and philosophies cooked into his style of coaching that he takes onto the pitch every day, but one lives foremost at the top of the ingredients list that goes into everything.
“The main thing is that every athlete is a person, so treat everyone as such. The players serve the team, and the coach serves the players. A lot of coaches have it the other way around. Their posture says, what are you doing for me, player? It is all wrong. The coach’s job is to teach. Whatever a player cannot do, the coach has not taught them yet. Teach. Show young people how to succeed, how to learn, how to behave, how to believe in themselves and believe in more than themselves. This is how you care about people. This is how you build consistency. This is how you sustain success.
With his father serving as one of the pillars of the soccer community in Spokane and an uncle, Erik, that was an elite player and coach elsewhere, it was also a given that the Bushey boys (Cam and Noah) would take on the sport.
“I played for the Spokane Shadow youth club from 2001-2008 and Colorado Rush from 2006-2009 in my youth career.”
During that time, he was on the Washington State Youth ODP team and was a Surf Cup Champion, Colorado State Cup Champion, Region IV Champion, and on a team that finished third at USYS Nationals.
He went on to play at Whitworth under his father from 2008-2011, graduating in May 2012. The Pirates were a three-time Northwest Conference Champion during his tenure, making it as far as the Elite 8 in the Division III NCAA Tournament. Personally, he was a four-time All-Conference selection and made the All-Region team.
His brother Noah went on to play at New Mexico and Florida Gulf Coast before joining hometown Gonzaga to finish his collegiate career. He now coaches alongside his father at Shattuck-St Mary’s.
So, in a family of coaches and players what happens when they get together? More soccer and competition.
“You name it! Lots of watching professional games together when they are on tv, and then we are probably finding some way to compete whether it be board games, card games, yard games, ping pong, and beyond. When we are not playing around, we are talking, catching up, learning where everyone is at and how everyone is doing in life and finding ways to learn from each other.”
Family is certainly part of the inspiration that drives him.
“I draw a lot from my dad and my uncle Erik Bushey and from James Charette who is a leading coaching educator in the country. Watching the progress of the game. The best teachers must be the best learners, so I watch a lot for what the trends of the game are in the professional game and in coaching development and teaching methodology.”
The evolution of his coaching career began under his father with the club in 2009 shortly after beginning his collegiate playing career. And not long after he graduated from Whitworth, he began his career at the next level taking on the Shadow men’s team in 2017 and later an assistant role at Gonzaga in 2018. After two seasons he was named the top assistant coach at Stanislaus State in 2020, returning home to Spokane in 2022 as the new women’s head coach at his alma mater – a position his father once held.
“Truly, it is all in God’s hands,” he said of his coaching career path. “He has given me opportunities and opened doors and I have chosen to walk through them. There are only 5 NCAA programs in Spokane. I have been blessed to work with two of the three, Gonzaga and Whitworth. The opportunity with Whitworth women’s soccer brought me back.
“I care a lot about the soccer community here. I grew up in it, my dad had such a great impact in it. I want to see it flourish. I am back at Whitworth because this place is really special. I want every student athlete coming through our program to have a really enjoyable and meaningful college experience, and I want these soccer players to experience the joys of winning that I was able to. I want Whitworth women’s soccer to win its first every NCAA Northwest Conference Championship, and we will do just that.”
Coming from a long family history of youth coaching he brought a lot of knowledge about the game into his college coaching roles.
“Mostly that everyone is unique. Treat every individual as an individual. Nobody is purposefully trying to do anything wrong. There are so many different people and different personality types. As a coach, I just try to help people be themselves to their fullest ability, so everything I do lines up with that. No matter what team I am coaching, we have to first have great team culture before we can start to succeed on the field.”
And now with a wide variety of college coaching experiences under his belt – along with his playing career – he brings knowledge to his role as a youth coach in the club.
“Winning is not a sometimes thing, it’s an all the time thing. Vince Lombardi said that. For me, it is that age-old truth of how you do something is how you do everything. In college, you have to show up every day and be ready. It is not professional soccer, there are differences, but only about 3% of youth players get to play in college soccer, so you are in a sense with the best of the best from youth. That is an opportunity to take advantage of. Taking advantage of that opportunity means you make the most of each and every day. And the game demands it too. You hardly ever get to win after having a ‘bad game.’ Every team and every player have to be really consistent, so you have to train really consistent.”
As the current coach of the oldest Girls Academy group Bushey has coached has led a wide array of teams at the youth level throughout his career. But in essence it is all the same to him.
“The similarities are plenty: we all play with one ball; we all try to score and to stop the opponent from scoring. Soccer principles pretty much stay the same. All young people need adults believing in them, regardless of if they are in grade school or graduate school (or beyond). The differences are there too. What matters to a 12-year-old boy or girl and what matters to a 20-year-old young man or young woman are very different. Get to know people and you will find out in what ways you can help them achieve their goals on the field, and occasionally off too.”
Having an analytical coaching mind developed from his lineage, Bushey enjoys the nuts and bolts of the game and living for game day.
“Coaching is mostly managing people. Helping them. It’s also a lot of behind-the-scenes administrative work. Then it is practice. Coach’s game days are during the week. The players’ game days are on the weekend, but we all live for the game days. The most enjoyable thing for me is when the outcome of the game matches all the work that you have put into it – being good teammates, training well, growing, preparing. When the goal goes in, that is why you celebrate so hard because of all the work you put in. The more work you put in the more the goals and the wins mean.”
But truly his real joy and passion is the new family and likely next generation of players (maybe coaches) – they already are playing in Spokane Sounders YDP – he has started with his wife Kasey (Rubosky), a fellow Spokane Shadow youth product and successful player at Gonzaga University.
“All of my time when I am not working is with my family. I am obsessed with my wife. She is incredible, and I am blessed beyond belief. Our kids are growing fast and so much fun to be around. We get on the lake a lot in the summers boating and kayaking, we play in the snow a lot in winter.
“Fall and spring is probably a lot of soccer. Family and soccer overlap a lot. My wife and kids are very supportive of me and our teams. My family is around a lot and, at least in our eyes, pretty much a part of the teams I coach.”