ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Basketball has come full circle for Vera Jo Bustos.
A former camper at University of New Mexico’s women’s basketball summer camps, Bustos will now be one of the instructors. She was hired Friday as videographer, completing coach Yvonne Sanchez’s staff for 2014-15.
Bustos takes over her new post from Jourdan Erskine, who has been promoted to director of operations. That job came open last month when former director of ops Amy Beggin was promoted to assistant coach.
“I’m glad we had people in position to move up,” Sanchez said of Beggin and Erskine. “That’s what you do when people do a great job.”
Bustos is a new addition, but her name is likely familiar to women’s basketball fans around the state. A former All-State player at West Las Vegas High School, Bustos went on to a stellar career at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo.
Bustos left Adams State as the school’s career scoring leader (1,859 points) and helped the Grizzlies reach the Division II Sweet 16. She received All-America honors after her junior and senior seasons and went on to play professionally for a season in Greece.
For the past two seasons Bustos served as an assistant coach at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, but the 24-year-old jumped at the chance to join Sanchez’s staff.
“Driving up to the Pit, I can’t believe I work here,” Bustos said. “I grew up a Lobo fan, came to games here. I still have scrapbooks at home that I made when I was a little girl. I’m really overjoyed to be working for this program.”
Sanchez said she’s equally happy to have Bustos on board. Hindsight being 20-20, Sanchez believes Bustos would have looked good in a Lobo uniform during her playing days.
“She absolutely could have played here,” Sanchez said. “She had a great career at Adams State and played professionally, so I’d say things worked out fine. But I didn’t want to let her get away this time.”
Bustos didn’t grow up envisioning herself as a coach but said she’s grown to love the role. As videographer she won’t be allowed to do any on-court coaching, but said the jump to Division I – and UNM – is a positive career move. She will be able to work with players at UNM’s coming summer basketball camps.
“It’ll be harder not coaching during the season,” Bustos said, “but I’ll find ways to learn and grow from a position with this staff.
“It just seems amazing to me that I was one of the little girls getting autographs at Lobo camp and now I’m here giving them.”
UNM’s staff shuffling also means a new role for Erskine, who played for the Lobos from 2009-13. The director of operations job also precludes on-court coaching but fits with Erskine’s education.
“It’s more responsibility,” Erskine said, “arranging travel and making sure things run smoothly, but it kind of fits with my business degree. I’m so excited to put that to use.”
Sanchez said she’s relieved to have a complete staff in place. UNM’s players have been released for June but will return to begin practicing in July for an August trip to Italy.