Paul Bushey becomes the 13th Owl men’s basketball player to be inducted into the Keene State College Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. Playing in the old band box Spaulding Gym didn’t slow Bushey down. He used his speed and uncanny jumping ability to score 1,247 points during his four-year Keene Teachers College career (1952-56) that included just 75 games.
Galloping up and down the court, the 6-2 forward laughing described himself as a “garbage game” player who made a career out of cleaning up the missed shots by his teammates and his uncanny accuracy from the free throw line. “I didn’t shoot that much, but when I did, it usually went in,” said Bushey, who became the second men’s basketball player at the College to reach the coveted 1,000-point career milestone.
Following a standout career at Groveton (N.H.) High, Bushey came to Keene Teachers College in the fall of 1952. Earning enough money for school by working a year in the mills back home, Bushey joined a KTC team that included many home grown players eager to display their skills on the Spaulding Gym floor. Leading the Owls in scoring his sophomore and junior season, Bushey averaged 16.6 points. His teams compiled a very respectable 43-21 record and were always among the leaders in the New England Teachers’ Conference.
His talents on the court didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates and fans that crowded into the friendly confines of Spaulding Gym. “He was probably the best rebounder for his size in the history of the college,” said Harold Hapgood ‘54,” who served as the Owls’ manager during Bushey’s first two seasons.
“He came to play every game,” added former teammate Jesse Evangelou ’54. “I remember going up for a rebound and getting hit in the back of the head. I thought I was fouled, but it was just Paul. He wanted the ball so bad.”
Bushey had his share of memorable games at KTC. There was a last second shot that won a game against rival Plymouth his junior season and a late season contest against Fitchburg his senior year when he was tackled on the sidelines. “I got my nose broke in seven places,” Bushey recalls. “They had to wheel me over to Eliot Hospital, which at the time was next to the Gym.”
There was more to basketball that just the competition. “We were basically out there to have fun and enjoy the team camaraderie,” said Bushey, who met his wife, Patricia (Piper) Bushey at the College.
After a lengthy stint in the service, Bushey worked as a teacher and administrator throughout New England. He also officiated high school and college basketball and soccer games.
Bushey, who also played baseball and tennis for the Owls, said that Keene Teachers College allowed him to mature and learn. “The faculty and staff took an interest in the students,” he said. “Since it was a small school everyone knew each other. We ate together, played together, lived together, and grew up together. And that made it a real quality experience.”