The Gopher volleyball team previews their NCAA Sweet 16 match with Iowa State.
Laura Bush is in her sixth year with the Golden Gopher volleyball program. Being the Gopher interim head coach until Hugh McCutcheon arrived with the program in August of 2012, Bush has nine years of head coaching experience at Auburn (2002-07) and Marquette (1999-2001).
She has also gone to the Final Four with three different Big Ten programs. Bush went as a player for Illinois in 1987 & 88, as an assistant coach from Michigan State in 1995 and with Minnesota in 2009. She arrived in 2008 and helped lead the Gophers to an 81-25 record in those seasons, a 45-15 Big Ten mark, a Final Four in 2009, two NCAA Regionals and pair of second-place finishes in conference play.
With the interim tag, Bush led the Golden Gophers to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2011. Minnesota defeated North Dakota State and Washington as Minnesota hosted the NCAA Regionals. Coaching Ashley Wittman and Tori Dixon to All-America citations, both were also all-regional as well as First Team All-Big Ten. in 2012, Bush continued her role as interim until McCutcheon's arrival and later promoted her to associate head coach title.
In 2010, the Gophers finished 26-9, went 9-1 in the second half of Big Ten play to finish tied for second at 14-6 and advanced to the NCAA Regionals. For the first time since 2004, Minnesota defeated every team in the Big Ten at least once.
Heading into the 2009 season Laura Bush was already in exclusive company as one of a small group of assistant coaches to both play and coach in the Final Four. When the Golden Gophers advanced to the Final Four in 2009, Bush joined an even more exclusive group. Bush's trip to the Final Four gave her appearances with three different programs in the same conference. She has now advanced to the Final Four as a coach with two different programs (Minnesota in 2009 and Michigan State in 1995) and as a player for Illinois in 1987 & 88.
Bush was named to the assistant coach position in January of 2008, and assumed primary recruiting responsibilities for a Golden Gopher program that claimed the No. 1 recruiting class in 2009. In 2009, the Gophers had the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, including the 2009 Gatorade National Player of the Year Ashley Wittman.
In her second season with Minnesota, she helped guide the Golden Gophers to the program's third Final Four. Minnesota finished 28-9, claimed the third place in the Big Ten at 15-5 and finished the season ranked No. 4. It marked the second time that Bush has been an assistant and helped the program to the Final Four in one of her first three seasons as an assistant coach.
She also helped guide the Golden Gophers to their third-best regular-season win total (during the NCAA era) in school history, finished second in the Big Ten at 16-4 and helped guide Minnesota to a No. 14 final ranking in 2009.
Along with her collegiate coaching experience, Bush was selected as an assistant to the USA Select A1 staff in the summers of 2010 and 2011.
Bush has a wealth of experience at the Division I level, including nine seasons as a head coach. She was the head coach for Auburn from 2002 to 2007, and was also the head coach at Marquette for three years prior to that. Combined with her six years as an assistant coach at Michigan State and her first three years at Minnesota, Bush has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level.
In 2006, Bush helped guide Auburn to its highest win total in a season since 2000. She also led the Tigers to the SEC Tournament in 2004, marking their first SEC postseason appearance since 1999.
Prior to her coaching stint at Auburn, she had a successful three-year run at Marquette. In her first season with the Golden Eagles, she led them to an 18-13 record. The .581 winning percentage was the best by a Marquette squad since 1985 at the time.
The Golden Eagles 9-7 record in Conference USA that year was also the most conference wins since 1995 for the program. In her third and final season at Marquette, she guided her team to a 19-13 overall record.
Bush was also an assistant coach at Michigan State from 1993 to 1998. She was a part of a coaching staff that took over after the Spartans went 8-22 in 1992. Only three years later, that staff guided Michigan State to a Big Ten title, a Final Four appearance and a 34-3 record in 1995. The Spartans tied for first place in the Big Ten, and made the NCAA Regional Finals in 1996.
In her six years as an assistant coach at Michigan State, the Spartans were 132-66 for a .667 winning percentage. She was also responsible for developing and implementing a recruiting strategy that allowed the Spartans to land six Top 50 recruits during that span. While with the Spartans, Bush received her masters of education from MSU in 1998.
As a player, Bush was a four-year letter at Illinois from 1987 to 1990 where she played for Hebert. During her career, Illinois had a 109-31 overall record, won two Big Ten titles (1987 & 88) and advanced to back-to-back Final Fours.
She was named All-Big Ten and was a Second-Team All-American in 1989, and was also the University of Illinois Female Athlete of the Year in 1990. She also received one of the NCAA post-graduate scholarships in 1994. Bush is still currently on a pair of top 10 lists at Illinois. She is also one of four former Hebert players to become a head coach. Bush is part of a select group that have both played and coached in a Final Four at the Division I level. She is part of that group along with former Golden Gopher assistant coach Jill Pearson among others.