Jul 14, 2019 | Copyright Albuquerque Journal
Local basketball legend Vera Jo Bustos is never one to sit still for too long.
The former West Las Vegas basketball and volleyball star was a standout at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., before playing professionally in Greece. It was announced this week that she is going into the Grizzlies Hall of Fame and she also launched a new business venture Wednesday.
Mentality Solutions (www.mentalitysolutions.com) – a three-tiered program aimed at integrating confidence and positive thinking into athletics, business and everyday life – is an offshoot from her first business, VJ’s Elite basketball training.
Bustos, 30, who is also the director of operations for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball program, has been putting the new business together for some time.
It’s an outgrowth of her basketball training, Bustos said.
“I guess it’s kind of been something I’ve been working towards without even knowing for the past year,” she said.
“I’ve been doing mentality training at VJ’s Elite, starting about a year ago. After training sessions, I’d sit and talk to the kids for five or 10 minutes and see what the kids can do mentally to improve.”
With a bachelor’s in sports psychology and doctorate in real-life experience, Bustos said it just made sense to expand what she was doing into a regular format.
“I know about what players are going through because I have been through it myself, or else I know somebody that’s been through it,” she said. “I started working with basketball players. But people are starting to realize that mentality training is something anybody can get value from.”
Indeed, while one part of Mentality Solutions program focuses on youth athletes, Bustos is also striving to reach out to others who can use a mental boost.
“What I’ve realized, and what other people realized, is how much anybody can benefit from something like this,” she said. “Everybody needs somebody to hold them accountable. Just like a very serious athlete has a coach or somebody to hold them accountable, businesspeople and employees need the same thing.”
When a person is confident in themselves and develops a positive mindset, the end result can’t help but be positive, she said.
“That’s something that I’m trying to develop,” Bustos said. “My motto is ‘Challenging aspiring minds to achieve peak performance level.’ ”
It dates back to her year of playing professionally, she said.
“I know I was the only D-II athlete in Grece and maybe one of the only one or two in Europe. And I would see all of these D-I athletes and think, ‘What am I doing here?’ But once I realized that was something in my own head, I was able to overcome it and play with confidence and belief in myself. I had to find that inner strength and belief in myself.”
So the goal is to help others achieve that same success in whatever walk of life they happen to stride.
“I want to share that with others,” Bustos said. “I want to help others to believe in themselves. Everything they need is within them already. They just need somebody to shed a little light to lead them out of the darkness.”
In addition to individual and small group sessions with athletes and businesses, Bustos is doing keynote and motivational speaking through Mentality Solutions.
“The topics are confidence and team dynamics and shaping yourself in teams, learning how to create a winning environment and performing beyond expectations,” she said. “I’m trying to cover the confidence gap. It’s so relevant but people don’t understand where confidence comes from. The secret behind confidence is understanding the mentality behind it so I want to share some tips and tricks to learn how to have that burning belief within yourself.”
NOTES FROM THE NORTH
Jul 14, 2019 Updated Jul 15, 2019
Vera Jo Bustos proved she can accomplish a lot when she puts her mind to it.
Now, she wants to help tap into the minds of other people to help them succeed.
Bustos was a three-sport star at West Las Vegas from 2003-07, then became one of the most decorated athletes at Adams State University — she is the women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer — before going on to play professionally in Greece for a year. Bustos has spent the past four years as the director of basketball operations for the University of New Mexico women’s program.
Over the past year and a half, Bustos branched out and started a pair of businesses that work hand in hand. Her JV’s Elite focuses on the development of basketball skills for youth players, and also had a psychological component called “mentality training” that evolved into her second venture — Mentality Solutions.
Its primary focus is working on developing a positive mindset for athletes and professionals alike, and it gives Bustos a chance to put her degree in sports psychology to good use.
“It’s not only in sports but in life,” Bustos said. “One thing I try to get across to my clients and the people I work with is your mindset. It literally dictates the way you run your life, whether it’s a positive mindset or a competitive mindset on the court or in the field or at work.”
Bustos feels her own life story helped her gain an understanding of what it takes to succeed personally and professionally.
She pointed to her time in Las Vegas, N.M., playing basketball and volleyball for a Class 3A school and not getting a lot of attention from major colleges despite being a key player since she was in eighth grade.
She remembered the fear and apprehension she felt after graduating and heading off to Alamosa, Colo., to attend Adams State.
“I went in there a scared 17-year old girl walking in there with all these 19-, 20-year-old women,” Bustos said. “But then you see how I walked out of there four years later, heading to Greece. It was just amazing how much I grew up in those four years.”
Bustos is hoping she can help others tap into their potential as much as she tapped into hers.
General 7/12/2019 1:01:00 PM Aaron Kinnischtzke - ASU Sports Information
Adams State Hall of Fame Induction to Headline Eventful Alumni Weekend
ALAMOSA, Colo. – The Adams State Athletics Hall of Fame is proud to announce eight new inductees representing five sports, who will be inducted this Fall. The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, September 27th at 6 P.M. The 2019 inductees are: Jaime Armenta, Wrestling-Class of '86, Jason Hubbard, Cross Country/Track & Field-Class of '06, Melissa Johnson, Cross Country/Track & Field-Class of '90, Wes Polk, Football-Class of '91, Vera Jo Bustos, Basketball-Class of '11, Janelle Olson, Cross Country/Track & Field-Class of '98 (BA), '04 (MA), Clay Holly, Wrestling-Class of '84, and Celedonio Solis-Rodriquez, Cross Country/Track & Field- Class of '06. Tickets for the induction will be on sale for $50. Contact Katelyn Smith to purchase tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The weekend will also feature the annual Alumni Game against archrival Western State for the Colorado Classic Trophy the following day at 2 P.M.
Vera Jo Bustos – Women's Basketball
Started 105 games for the Grizzlies from 2007-2011, most in program history … Ended her career as the Grizzlies' all-time leader in points (1859), points per game (16.2), field goals made (639), three-point field goals made (270), and minutes played (3805) … Career accolades include RMAC Freshman of the Year (07-08) , two-time RMAC West Division Player of the Year (08-09, 09-10), two-time Daktronics All-Central Region First-Team (08-09, 10-11), and two-time WBCA Division II All-American Honorable Mention (09-10, 10-11) … Signed professional basketball contract overseas in Greece where she averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 21 games for Thessaloniki Apollon Kallamarias … Currently in her fourth year as Director of Operations for the University of New Mexico Women's Basketball program … Adams State College Class of 2011
Jul 12, 2019
Vera Jo Bustos was speechless, and she couldn’t remember the last time that happened to her.
The 2007 West Las Vegas graduate and current director of operations for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball program ran out of words Friday as she talked about her latest accomplishment — her induction into the Adams State University Hall of Fame, which was announced earlier that afternoon.
Bustos played basketball at the college from 2007-11 and left as the program’s all-time leading scorer, as well earning Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division player of the year honors and a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association honorable mention All-American distinction twice.
Bustos said Adams State athletic director Larry Mortensen told her last week about the honor, but asked her not to say anything until the news release came out. Other than family and close friends, Bustos kept it to herself.
“He said, ‘You know, Vera Jo, it’s not usual for college or universities to induct someone so young,’ ” Bustos said with a chuckle. “It’s so very hard to put into words, though.”
While the words escape her, Bustos’ résumé speaks loudly for her. She started 105 games for the Grizzlies, finishing with 1,859 points — which still stands as the benchmark for the program. She also set the bar for field goals made (639) and 3-pointers (270). She earned the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year Award in 2008, then followed that with back-to-back West Division Player of the Year Awards in 2009 and ’10. Her junior and senior years saw her earn national recognition at the NCAA Division II level, as she earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2010 and ’11.
Bustos credited her Adams State teammates and coaches for helping make her accomplishments possible.
“It’s a huge testament to the culture, the discipline, the high expectations, the leadership [at Adams State] that I was fortunate to be a part of,” Bustos said. “It’s amazing how much I grew in those four years.”
Bustos parlayed that into a professional career, playing for Thessaloniki Apollon Kalamarias in Greece, where she averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21 games. Since then, she is focused on her coaching career and has spent the past four seasons at UNM in her current position.
Even as Bustos, who turned 30 last month, found her path professionally, she is not content to simply focus on one task. She started VJ’s Elite, which is dedicated to training and enhancing the basketball skills for youth players, branched out into motivational speaking and recently started another business — Mentality Solutions, in which she helps train athletes and people in the professional realm to improve their mental approach to their sport or career. It’s a way to take advantage of her sports psychology degree she earned at Adams State.
“I’m excited to see where both of those [businesses] go,” Bustos said. “It’s crazy to think that I’ve established two businesses before the age of 30. I’m excited to see how many lives I can impact and touch.”