Competition brings Buening back to the diamond

Photo by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Before last Monday's victory against Springs Valley, Southridge head coach Scott Buening talked with his team about playing "good Raider softball." Buening was victorious in his softball head coaching debut, and was excited to take over the helm of the Southridge softball program due to the competition and drive that coaching provides him. He is also the head coach of Southridge's football program and has led the Raiders to two consecutive semistate games and a Class 2A state championship title in 2017.


For as long as he can remember, Scott Buening has always been driven by competition.

Whether it’s been coaching the Southridge football team to a Class 2A state title in 2017 or way back to his high school days as a power-swinging third baseman on the baseball diamond at North Decatur High School, the thrill of high-intensity battles has always piqued his interest.

It’s one of the main reasons why Buening wanted to get back on the diamond, except this time in a new role — as head softball coach of the Raiders.

“This isn’t something I felt like I had to do, it’s something that I wanted to do,” Buening said. “I love to compete. I’ve gotten to know these girls in my classes the past few years, and you just get to the point where you want to do what you can to see them be successful.”

Buening does have some past softball experience, as he was a varsity assistant at Evansville Harrison for one year and a varsity assistant at East Central under longtime coach John Roth for six years.

He quickly realized after his first stint of working with the softball program at East Central in 2000 that this was something he wanted to do much more of.

“After I was able to convince my student teaching supervisor to let me do it [in 2000], I fell in love with the sport rather quickly,” Buening said. “It’s a fast-paced game, and I found out that I started to enjoy it a lot more than baseball, in regards to coaching it.”

Sports have been a major part of Buening’s life since he was growing up in the small town of St. Paul, Indiana. He recalls living at least 30 minutes or so away from most of his friends, which meant he and his siblings would often play as many sports as they could with each other to pass the time.

“My two brothers and my sister and I, [sports] is all we did,” Buening said. “We grew up on a farm. We didn’t have cable TV — sports is just what we did for fun. I just realized then that I loved competition.”

Buening has coached just about a little bit of everything. Whether in baseball with the Indiana Bulls, a summer league baseball program that has helped start the careers of several current MLB players including Tucker Barnhart and Lance Lynn, or at Southridge High School with the football and boys track programs, he’s always seemed to find himself at the helm of some type of athletic program.

While Buening has often preached the importance of multi-sport athletes, he also realized what may be even more important is multi-sport coaches.

“I got to thinking about how I’ve never been at a school that’s had as many coaches coach multiple sports like we do here at Southridge,” Buening said. “Whether it’s Dave Schank [who coached baseball and wrestling in the past] or Ted O’Brien [who coached basketball and track in the past, and is now coaching both boys and girls track], we just want to compete and be the best we can be in all of the sports here.”

Whether it’s football or softball, Buening shares many of the same coaching philosophies between the two sports.

The most important one? Build a successful culture that puts the team before individual interests.

“It’s just like running a successful business, it takes continuity, and you have to surround yourself with some very good people that know its players first and sports second,” Buening said. “We’ve had a culture of kids that are totally about playing for Southridge, representing Southridge and being all about Southridge. As we continue to develop that philosophy, I think it’s transcending through all the sports.”

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