Coach Chuck Buckle with his last cross country team. The boys won the state championship with the girls placing fourth.
The McIntosh Chiefs cross country team gave longtime coach Chuck Buckle a special retirement present -- a fourth state championship win.
"It's a good way to end," Buckle said. "Now I can say that part of my life is done. I've been a cross country coach for 29 years. Now we can turn it over to someone else."
Buckle has been a fixture around the halls of McIntosh since its beginnings. Now he's ready to ride off into the future, leaving his team on the top.
"Coach Chuck Buckle is a McIntosh icon. Characterized by his outstanding classroom instruction and history knowledge, he compliments his teaching exemplary state championship cross country coaching and military leadership expertise," said McIntosh Principal Lisa Wms Fine. "He is the epitome of a McIntosh Chief. His integrity, commitment to excellence, and dedication to education are trademarks of a McIntosh teacher."
Throughout his career at McIntosh, Buckle has molded the Chiefs cross country program into one of the state's elite. Since starting the team way back in 1984, Buckle's squads have won four state championships and a ridiculous 31 region titles. The boys state championship win this year will be a fitting end to a tremendous coaching career.
Next school year will begin a strange new era for McIntosh. For the first time since the school was opened in 1981, Buckle won't be there. As the last remaining member of the group that opened the school, he is quick to joke about his longevity.
"I'm the last dinosaur standing," Buckle quipped.
In fact, the whole Buckle family has been a mainstay around the halls for a long time. Chuck's wife, Debbie, also started along with the school and headed up the heath and P.E. department at the school till she retired in 2008. Their daughter, Anne, graduated as salutatorian in 2006.
It wasn't just the coaching that drove Buckle. He also has a deep love for teaching. He knew back in the eighth grade that he wanted to be a history teacher. His love for both facets of his career have made it so rewarding.
"To be an effective teacher, you have to enjoy the people that you're teaching. You have to have passion for the subject," says Buckle. "The biggest thing is you have to care. That passion for teaching comes out like it does with coaching. You have to show the individuals that you care."
It's the winding down of a long career of service. After 35 years in the military, with a retirement from the Army Reserves this past summer, and 35 years in teaching, it's a lot of time put in.
"After 35 years of both, it's probably time to go," Buckle said.
Buckle's wife has been encouraging him to hang it up completely for some time, but he wanted to spread out his departures from the Army and school. "I wanted to ease it in," Buckle said. "I didn't want to go from 120 miles an hour to zero overnight."
Now, he will get to travel at his own speed with his family. Whenever they see fit, they can pick up and go. The chance to visit his daughter in Nashville more often is now on the table without teaching and coaching obligations. Plus, there are other matters close to home to deal with.
"My wife has lots of different plans for travel and work around the house," Buckle jokes.
Either way, he'll find someway to stay active because, as he says, "I can't see myself sitting on the couch."
"The legacy Chuck Buckle leaves at McIntosh will remain a constant reminder of his influence. Although his presence will be missed, Coach Buckle has earned a reputation for excellence will live on in the students, teachers, and parents of McIntosh," Fine said. "Once a Chief, always a Chief? Coach Chuck Buckle will always be a Chief!"