Usta News

Getting to know USTA Professional members Alysha Depp Busza and Claudia Schlitz-Kuhlow( Fri, Jun 21 00:06:AM)



Getting to know USTA Professional members Alysha Depp Busza and Claudia Schlitz-Kuhlow

“Getting to know you………getting to know all about you.”
Each month, INSIDE LOOP features USTA Professional members in an “up close and personal” way that helps us get to know them. This month, we sat down with Professional member Alysha Depp Busza, PA, former World Champion, now USTA Judge, Coach and also a Baton Mom! In addition, we interviewed former National Champion, now USTA Professional and ALSO a Baton Mom, Claudia Schlitz-Kuhlow, NY. Here's what they had to say:
As a USTA Professional, you have experienced every aspect of baton life. You were an athlete, a champion, a coach, a judge, a "baton mom" and baton enthusiast. How have all these aspects of our sport influenced your life?
Alysha: I’d like to think that I playfully call twirling “my addiction.”  Maybe the addiction is the drive to improve. We all love the constant challenge to improve our twirling. Striving to be better is a good outlet, whether through coaching an individual or a team, or teaching new or improved systems that help us strive toward our fullest potential.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to try differing baton-related experiences, or hats as I call it. My
favorite role thus far is the role of the athlete. I LOVED performing and competing. As I moved on to running my own business, I enjoyed using my business degree to run my own twirling program. It was my desire to design effective and fun teaching methods while balancing personalities (not easy!) I find judging to be a great challenge in trying to weigh all the aspects of twirling just right. I never gave the “baton mom” role the credit it deserved until it was my turn to wear those shoes. I want to pass on to my daughters the wonderful experiences I had and enjoy introducing them to dear friends. I love that so many of the people I twirled with now have daughters (many have more than one!) that twirl and we can
share in this crazy journey together.

One of my favorite lessons in life is from one my coaches who taught me to “put our blinders on.” She was teaching us to avoid getting distracted by competitors and to instead focus on yourself and the job YOU  can do. This is a great lesson in all the aspects of twirling and also in everyday life. In a world of constant comparison with social media, the lesson of “Being Yourself” is key. Your uniqueness as an athlete, coach, and person is your key to success.

Claudia:  Competing for 17 years and coaching many young girls has shaped who I am today. Twirling has taught me to be disciplined, to set goals for myself and has increased my self confidence. I began coaching as a teenager and from the positive experiences I had, I knew that I wanted to work with children as a career. I feel very fortunate to be able to share my skills and experiences with my daughters and to help shape the next generation of baton twirlers.
In today’s world, what do you think are the key incentives for young children to participate in our sport?  What do you feel is missing?
Alysha:  Our sport teaches a lot at a young age. I initially put my daughters in dance and gymnastics and quickly learned it is easy to become just a number in such a common activity. I knew twirling would teach them more and give them a uniqueness other sports could not offer. Twirling is concise in its development process and the satisfaction of “catching” the baton offers rewarding concrete reinforcement that inspires kids to want to keep working. It's a great value for the experiences you can achieve. There are advantages to it being a smaller sport (in comparison to soccer or dance) in that you can be a big fish in a small pond. This provides more opportunities than getting lost in a crowd. Parents find this attractive for their kids.

Of course we all want more recognition for our sport whether its through the Olympics or twirling on the field with the band in high school. I think we can drive this forward by reinforcing teaching showmanship and performance qualities to entertain the public. Our college twirlers are doing a great job with promoting us in this way. The showmanship quality along with the risk and demand our sport requires makes us unique as a sport. We should focus more on this as coaches and reward it as judges.
Claudia:  The sport of baton twirling is unique and offers many incentives for young children to be a part of. Baton twirling provides an opportunity to not only compete as a team member, but also compete individually against other athletes. In addition, the bonds formed between athletes, coaches and the baton twirling community go beyond the gym and competitions and often last for a lifetime. However, many young children are missing out on participating in our sport due to the lack of national exposure. I often feel that I have to explain what our sport entails to people who are misinformed or are unfamiliar with it. Many other sports have well established collegiate programs, professional leagues and are part of the Olympics.
Tell our readers three things that very few baton people would know about you.
1. I have never had a Facebook account so you have to get to know me the old fashioned way. This means you get to tell me your fun news live and in person or you can text me a screenshot of your post which my closest friends have been known to do. :)

2. I am a stay at home mom to my four wonderful kids. Many know my twirling daughters, Sterling Busza (11), and Shay Busza (9), but I also have my son Paxton (5) and third daughter, Payson (3.5).  I challenged myself to close my twirling business when my third was born to see if I could measure up as a stay at home mom. It’s a lot to keep up with and I take it seriously so I am always trying to improve. I am so grateful to my wonderful hubby for all his support and for keeping us as balanced as we crazy twirlers can be.

3. I am an audible book junkie. Mom life doesn’t let me sit and read so I listen to a lot of books on life optimization, theology, parenting and whatever helps me to better myself or improve life.

1.  I work with elementary aged children as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  I enjoy working with children and I am very proud of each and everyone of my students.

2.  I am an avid baker and enjoy elaborately decorating cakes and cupcakes.

3. I grew up in a log cabin house that my parents, along with friends and family, built.

Thanks, Alysha and Claudia, for sharing your insights and experiences with us. It’s GREAT “getting to know you!”