For 40 years, St. Joseph native Mike Buckler has spent his time devoting his passion of coaching, teaching and helping others in the community. And as of July 1, Buckler is officially retired.
“To begin with, it’s kind of time to take a little step back and relax a little bit because I had very busy days, which was good,” Buckler said. “With all the things I did, I enjoyed them tremendously.”
A man of many hats, Buckler made his mark on the St. Joseph community, whether it be as a coach on the field or a teacher in the classroom.
“I don’t think anyone could find someone more dedicated, more loyal to whatever position and devoted to the students and student-athletes that he works with,” said Howard McCauley, whom Buckler first started coaching football with at Missouri Western State University.
Initially a baseball player at Missouri Western from 1978 to 1982, Buckler discovered his love for coaching football in his college days. He went on to coach at Pittsburg State University in Kansas for one year before returning to coach at his alma mater throughout the 1980s.
“In anything that you can do, if you can be firm, fair and consistent, then everything’s going to be OK,” Buckler said. “I’ve never been one of those people that want things to come around and be about Mike.”
Buckler also coached at South Holt High School in Oregon, Missouri, a career that led the way to his induction into Missouri’s 8-Man Football Coaches Hall of Fame. He next took an administrative turn and became the principal at Robidoux Middle School for 10 years.
“The St. Joseph community is so supportive in every single thing. They support the school district because that’s who I’ve worked for, the school district, for 22 years and then obviously at Missouri Western as well, but the community bends over backward to help out kids,” Buckler said.
Buckler decided to return to coaching, and he first coached at Benton High School for three seasons as an assistant. His last coaching stop was as a defensive coordinator for Central High School for eight years.
McCauley said Buckler has done an outstanding job everywhere he’s ever been.
“When I see Mike, he’s always been enthusiastic, very upbeat and he is not only a great coach but a great classroom teacher and a great guy. He’s just one of the special ones to come along and he’s proved that I think you’ll find all the way through where he’s been,” McCauley said.
Central High School’s head football coach Regi Trotter coached alongside Buckler before he retired. Trotter said Buckler’s passion and love for teaching is indescribable.
“He coached basketball and track at the middle schools, and he’s dealing with young men and young women who are constantly growing and evolving, trying to figure themselves out,” Trotter said. “And to have that kind of patience and love for those kids over the time that he spent is incredible.”
Bucker said now that he’s retired, he feels fortunate and blessed in everything he did. In the last 10 years, Buckler added he’s enjoyed being a classroom teacher at Truman State University, while also coaching various sports.
“I’ve had busy days,” Buckler said. “It’s time to relax a little bit but it’s also time to move onto that next chapter.”
Buckler wants to continue teaching on a small scale and stay involved in the business community. He also added that he wants to still help out in the community at places like the Second Harvest Community Food Bank.
“A big thank you to everybody for all of their support. Again it’s neat to see so many people and be around people that you know,” Buckler said. “And I think that’s what’s so rewarding about it. It’s been a great run and it’s not by any means over. It’s fun and it’s rewarding but it’s also time to go, ‘Whew,’ to do that too.”
Trotter said the community is more than thankful for the time Buckler dedicated to the community.
“The biggest thing for me is just thank you and behalf of every student that he’s coached and been a part of their lives, I know they appreciate him,” Trotter said. “I appreciate the man that he was for all these kids to help them grow in any game and just in life.”