August 10th, 2012


Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

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CSAA's cross country director loves seeing young runners progress

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to

Chuck Buehner has been active as a coach and Director of Cross Country in the CSAA since the early 1980’s. He attended St. Denis elementary where he played all four sports the CSAA had to offer in track, football, basketball and baseball. He went to St. Xavier for high school and was a member of the track and cross country teams.

Buehner’s children, Chad and Maria, played basketball and ran cross country and track at St. Thomas Moore. He has been the director of the CSAA Cross Country program since 2003.

-- When and how did you get your start with the CSAA?

I started playing sports at St. Denis and that was always a good memory for me. When I got out of college, I was helping out coaching track and basketball at St. Denis and kept it up ever since then. I gave up coaching three years ago, but stay involved as Director of Cross Country.

St. Denis didn’t have a coach and I just asked if they needed anybody to help and they gave me a squad. I started coaching basketball and track and didn’t stop.

-- What sports did you coach and for how long?

I’ve been coaching since the late-‘70s, can’t put an exact date on it. But basketball and track and then cross country were the sports I coached.

-- What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes?

There’s no better feeling than to see a kid perform on a field of play and see the joy on their face when they get finished. When you see them realize that they’ve just accomplished something they’d never done before, well, that just makes you feel good. I do it for the kids. I could coach other sports, but I’d rather do this and see the kids grow and develop at this level.

The CSAA often provides the first opportunities for kids to compete in a healthy manner; a controlled environment. They get to learn about teamwork and the values that come with sports. Sports are a great building block of character.

-- Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

The most influential on me were my high school coaches. I had a really good rapport with my high school coaches, specifically my track and cross country coaches at St. X, Joe Heitzman and Frank Cooper. They were great. I modeled a lot of my running techniques from what I learned from them.

Whenever I was coaching cross country I found myself saying a lot of things that those coaches said to me. A lot of memories would come back to me (as a coach) from my days as a runner at St. X. When I was a runner at St. X, there was this one time when a bunch of us were running a cross country course at George Rogers Clark Park and we decided to take a break and lie down underneath a tree. We looked up, and there was Coach Heitzman up in the tree. He was spying on us on our run. Needless to say, we never did that again.

-- What are your major themes/principles as a coach?

Being fair to all the kids. Coaching kids in track and cross country is a little different. If there’s a kid that gives me 100% of what they can do, then I’ll coach them every day of the week. If there’s a gifted kid who didn’t want to train hard, well, that was fine, but I took more pride in working with kids who wanted to get better and always gave 100%.

It’s an interesting question for coaches: do you want to coach the top athletes only or do you want to coach kids who want to improve. I love seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces when they would run a personal record time.

I want these kids to come out for cross country, stick with it and allow themselves the opportunity to see how they get better over the course of a season.

-- What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Coaching has brought a lot of relationships with the kids I coach and their families. It’s a broader family that we have met and had good times with. Those relationships help me as a person, too.

-- What are some of the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching?

I remember one kid that we sat down before a basketball game. He was a great athlete, but didn’t work as hard as some of the other kids and we needed to sit him down because he broke the rules. He needed that reality check and had to learn that lesson about doing what was asked of him.

Years later, he came back to me and thanked me for doing that to him. He holds a very strong memory from that lesson and that’s probably one of the proudest moments I had as a coach because that kid took that lesson to heart.

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