Athlete of the month: Karen Bustillo

Sophia Kim, Asst. Sports Editor

Karen Bustillo hasn’t always been the best player on court; in fact, she was cut from her middle school’s volleyball team. But she did not give up, making Diamond Bar High School’s volleyball team her freshman year.

Little did she know that she would be named “Best Offensive Player” her junior year on the team and proudly represent DBHS’ volleyball team for four years.

“I said maybe I’ll just give it a shot because I’m tall,” the senior said. “Maybe [my height] will be useful for the sport.”

Now 5’10, Bustillo said she started volleyball due to an advantage in jumping and reaching the ball. She played as the middle shooter on the frosh team, right-side hitter on the junior varsity team and outside hitter on the varsity team. Bustillo joined the varsity team her junior and senior year.

Growing up, Bustillo played tennis for an year but decided that she wanted to pursue volleyball. She previously played in two outside volleyball clubs, Magnum and Icon.

Bustillo practiced at Chaparral Middle School for the Magnum Club and participated in tournaments every other weekend. In addition, she practiced at Whittier College when she played for Icon.

Bustillo said that she believes that she has gained more than just skills on DBHS’ volleyball team—the communication required in volleyball helped her open up and gain confidence. The friendship and bonds created between the players is what she cherishes, having  met her best friend through volleyball.

She said that she also learned how to better manage her time over the years as she balanced her busy volleyball schedule with school work.

“It would kind of get a little stressful with practice, having to go home on game days at eight and still have to do all my homework and eat,” she said. “It was difficult, but having a sport really helped me manage my time wisely.”

Bustillo has been coached by current varsity head coach Katie Swetnam for the past four years. As Swetnam was the coach for Magnum club, she has watched Bustillo grow over the years both on the school team and during club. Swetnam said that Bustillo’s energy is what allowed her to play consistently in every match.

“She’s pretty quiet so when she’s on the court she leads by example she goes out there and works really hard,” Swetnam said.

Swetnam said  that one of Bustillo’s biggest strength is her willingness to work and reception to feedback. Always listening for cues as to where to hit and in which direction, she stated that Bustillo listens to her advice and improves immediately. However, Swetnam hopes that Bustillo will take on more of a vocal leadership role in the future.

Despite Bustillo’s contributions to DBHS’ volleyball team, Bustillo has not decided if she will continue volleyball in college.