For many college students, four years of school can seem to fly by quickly. For student-athletes, grueling workouts, travel and the rigors of competing at the Division I level can make it go by even quicker. In this series, the Daily Trojan sits down with senior athletes playing various sports at USC to discuss their experience over the past four years, from their athletic life to their academic life. This week’s senior is Abril Bustamante, a captain on the women’s beach volleyball team and an All-American.
Q: What is your favorite memory at USC?
There’s definitely so many to choose from. I have to say without a doubt my sophomore year, winning the national championship. That was just insane because it was 13-15 in the third set. Nerves were up. It was a close game, and just the energy … It was so exciting, it was unreal.
I remember we all raced down to the ocean … We all dove in. I remember just feeling so happy. The happiest I’ve ever felt. The team was awesome. We had a great coaching staff, great everything. It was just a perfect end to a perfect year.
Q: Do you have any regrets from the past four years?
There are definitely games I wish I would have won, or maybe change in that moment. But looking back and seeing where I am now, I don’t think there’s anything I would change because I am here, and I’m happy with the way college has gone so far and my experience. Even the losses have set me up for the future. Learning for them, I’ve learned more from the losses than anything else.
Q: What’s one thing about beach volleyball that most people don’t know?
That in college it’s not played with bathing suits? I don’t know. The question I get asked a lot is if we play 6-on-6 and it’s just doubles, so maybe that.
Q: What’s next for you?
Next year, I’m going to graduate school. After that, I don’t know. I’m taking it one day at a time for now.
Q: Do you have any advice for freshman athletes?
I would tell them to make a lot of friends, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help, and just to try to live without regrets. The worst thing is you wish you could’ve done more, or you wish you could’ve changed things.
Q: What have you had to sacrifice in order to be a student-athlete?
Definitely family time. There’s times where I’ve wanted to go home and see my family and I can’t because I have practices. Friend get-togethers, just little things, even missing classes for athletic events. It’s definitely a lot of sacrifices. But at the end of the day, looking back at four years, everything I’ve done has been worth it. I would take nothing back and I would do it all over again if I could.
Q: What is your schedule like?
Now that I’m a second semester senior, my classload is pretty light, which is awesome. I wake up really early. I’ll either do some homework in the morning, or I’ll go straight to Galen Center. 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., we’ll either have weights or conditioning at McKay Center. Around 12:30 p.m., we’ll start practice until 3 p.m. After practice, we’ll do either some rehab or just hang out. I also go to bed pretty early — like, very, very early.