Twenty-two years is a long time. Twenty-two years ago, Bill Clinton was elected as the 42nd U.S. president, Home Alone 2 was in the theaters and Barney and Friends debuted on PBS.
And Bill Buirley started coaching volleyball at Fairmont.
Buirley, an East Unit math teacher, emits a friendly presence wherever he goes, and students and staff alike praise him for his relaxed nature and jovial attitude.
But there’s another side to Buirley, one of intensity and determination, that can only be seen on the volleyball court. This side to Buirley is a stark contrast to that of the friendly, easy-going teacher, but it has left the world of Kettering athletics forever. Buirley retired from coaching last spring.
Buirley’s teaching career is even longer than his coaching one, as this is his 28th year, with 21 at Fairmont. He has taught a wide variety of math classes at Fairmont and has a passion for education.
“Each class has its own benefits,” Buirley said. “I just like teaching people who want to learn.”
As a young man, Buirley loved astronomy and wanted to spend his life decoding the cosmos. It wasn’t until his college years that he even considered teaching.
Ironically, Buirley took his first teaching course not in the name of education, but in the name of love, as he blindly took the course in order to be with his girlfriend at the time. He ended up falling in love with the profession, and the rest is history.
“Something in me clicked,” Buirley said. “I found out that that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to be a teacher.”
He went on to study mathematics and education at Eastern Kentucky University and quickly obtained a teaching position at Van Buren Middle School.
Six years later, Buirley found his second love: coaching volleyball. He has had an incredible career, coaching Varsity Girls’ Volleyball for 22 years and Varsity Boys’ Volleyball for 16 years. In that time, his girls won 13 sectional titles.
But after decades of successful seasons, Buirley finally decided to throw in the towel.
“Something had to give,” Buirley said. “I’ve got a lot going on.”
One of Buirley’s main motivations is to be able to spend time with his new daughter Piper, who was born last year.
“For me to be able to dedicate myself to volleyball, the way that I would expect the girls to dedicate themselves, wouldn’t be the same thing,” Buirley said. “I don’t think it would be fair for me to stay as the varsity coach if I cannot give 100 percent.”
Buirley hopes that the teams will continue to be successful and competitive.
“I hope the goals they set for themselves are achieved,” he said. “I want other schools to know that when you play Fairmont, you have to be on the top of your game to beat us.”
Buirley will undoubtedly go down in Fairmont coaching history. His years of commitment to both the classroom and the volleyball court have affected countless lives.
“I have had numerous kids who have come back and said that I really taught them something, and that I taught them more than just math,” Buirley said. “When somebody recognizes you for what you do, that is always a really nice thing.”