Patapsco 3-sport star Busch finds herself through competition

During turmoil with family that turned her life upside down and left her at a 'breaking point,' she says, sports held things together

  • Patapsco's Santina Busch received one of two Courage Awards at the 48th annual Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner last month for overcoming personal challenges on and off the field.
Patapsco's Santina Busch received one of two Courage… (Doug Kapustin / Photo for…)
April 27, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Santina Busch started playing softball after she found a glove when she was 8. Since then, she has played three sports, including 12 varsity seasons at Patapsco. In her senior year, she has been the captain of the soccer, basketball and softball teams.

For Busch, however, sports have played such a pivotal role that she says they changed her life. Last month, Busch received one of two Courage Awards at the 48th annual Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner for overcoming personal challenges on and off the field. She has a 3.65 GPA and is ranked 12th in her class. Involved in many clubs, including student government, the English and music honor societies, and the Gay-Straight Alliance, she also has worked with Equality Maryland. Busch plans to attend Anne Arundel Community College in the fall and aims for a career in politics.

How did you come across that glove when you were 8?

I was not very athletic, but I had brothers, so I always liked to get down and dirty with them. But I was in the alley behind the parking lot at my old elementary school. Me and my dad found this baseball glove in the alley. It was kind of big, but we just picked it up and I started throwing. My dad was like, "Why don't you try and play softball? You'd have fun. You'd meet people." I was kind of like, "No, no. I don't want to do it without you." Then they talked me into it, and I actually loved it, but my parents had to promise me that they would be at every game, and they were. I have no idea whose glove it was or how it got there.

You and your parents spent a lot of time together when you were little. What happened?

Both my parents are sick (Busch declined to elaborate on their illnesses) and they got divorced. My freshman year, I got into Patapsco as a music magnet. Me and my dad were living in Catonsville, then we found a place over here and got evicted. Then I lived with my sister. Then me and my dad moved in with his brother in Catonsville. I felt I was being neglected — not abused, but not being taken care of — so I moved in with my mom in Anne Arundel County. In May of 2009, she moved to Tennessee, so I moved in with my boyfriend and his mom. I've been there ever since. We broke up, but we're still friends.

What kind of a role did sports play in your life?

Before I started playing, I was very shy. I would go out with my parents, and I would hide behind my mom like I was her shadow, so it was a way for me to find myself and be myself and get to know other people just like me. As things got rough for me, it was kind of a place for me to relax, I guess you would say. It was away from all the hectic things that were going on in my life. When I got on the field, it was like, "Just focus on the game." I have no idea how I managed to do that, but I did. It was hard, but it was like, "Don't worry about it during the game, and then after the game worry about it again."

You wrote in your Courage Award nominating essay that if not for sports "the end of the road might have come for me sooner." What did you mean by that?

Last spring during softball season, I was hospitalized because I was suicidal. I think I had found my breaking point, and I really couldn't handle it anymore. I was really under a lot of stress, and my (unofficial) guardian Michelle took me to the hospital. My mom gave her permission because my parents have joint custody of me, technically. So now I go to therapy.

Is that something you wanted to do?

It was kind of something I had to do. I didn't like the idea at first, but now I go frequently. It's a good thing for me. I feel like I've gotten a lot better managing my time and my stress and everything else that comes my way.

Why do you want to be a politician?

I like to argue. I feel like I would do a good job, and it bothers the crap out of me when politicians say they're going to do something about this or that and then not do anything about it at all. I'd like to be mayor of Baltimore City one day. That way I could clean it up. I'm very creative. I have a lot of ideas, and I think I could go for it, because I'm not shy to speak anymore.

Do you also want to help kids like yourself?

Yeah. I mean this whole award. I'm not used to being in the spotlight. I'm not used to people knowing my story. If I have to give advice to kids like me, the reason why I was successful and got through all the turmoil was because I wanted a better life for myself. Even though things were going wrong, I didn't want that to stop me. It was motivation for me to keep going. Obviously, sometimes it isn't enough just to believe. If I gave advice I would tell kids to keep going, don't give up, find something like sports that for me you enjoy doing that can get your mind off what you're going through. But I guess I was lucky to have people around me who cared enough.

You're very politically aware. Do you follow cable news, online news, newspapers?

All of those things. A lot of issues affect me personally, cleaning up Baltimore, gay issues, things like that. Even if I was a straight ally, it would affect me personally because I don't feel that anyone should be treated any differently. I wrote a letter to Barack Obama about the gay marriage issue, and he actually sent one back to me. I'm sure it was one of his office people, but it was nice to see that somebody actually read it and paid mind to it, so I have it framed at home.

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