Buller, in his 34th year at Bethany Christian High School on the south side of Goshen, has become the winningest boys basketball coach in Elkhart County history. He has seen plenty of changes on the local athletic scene since the late 1970s.
“I read a quote once that athletics doesn’t make a person, but gives someone the opportunity to demonstrate the type of person they want to be,” Buller said. “As life goes on, we encounter a lot of bumps in the road. You are going to win and lose sporting events. There are going to be accidents and health issues. Athletics provides the opportunity to show modesty in victory and how to hold our heads high in defeat. More than being an individual performer, it shows how to fit into a team system.”
Buller enjoys the small-school setting with Bethany drawing students from a variety of communities. He also enjoys forging relationships with those students through athletics and other extra-curricular activities. Including his high-school playing days, Buller has been involved in athletics for more than 40 years.
“I talk to our students all the time about athletics being a fleeting moment in their lives and they need to seize the opportunity to enjoy it and do their best,” Buller said. “When you start conditioning, it seems like a long season ahead but it goes by so fast. The four years provide some special opportunities for our student-athletes.
The days of packed gyms on Friday nights back in the 1960s and 1970s seem to be a distant memory. In this information age, Buller understands, there is just so much else for students and their families to do. There was time, Buller remembers, that coaches, players and fans would meet uptown on Saturday mornings to rehash the game from the night before. Nowadays that is often done on Facebook and Twitter.
While it may not be the same as decades past, sports in a community is still invaluable in Buller’s eyes.
“Still, athletics play a valuable role in our students’ lives,” Buller said. “They can bond a community together and forge lasting friendships.”