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No matter where he has gone, Josh Buis has left an impression that will not be forgotten

Friday, December 23, 2005

No matter where he has gone, Josh Buis has left an impression that will not be forgotten.

Buis, who is a graduate of South Putnam High School and DePauw University, resides in Michigan and is the running back coach and recruitment coordinator at Grand Valley State University. One week ago he accomplished something that every collegiate coach hopes to do - win a national championship.

GVSU brought home the NCAA Division II football championship last Saturday for the third time in five years and it was one of the greatest moments that Buis has ever experienced as a coach.

"It was great feeling sharing that moment with 100 guys on that field who poured their hearts into that game," Buis said.

This is Buis' second stint as a coach at GVSU. He worked as an offensive assistant with the offensive line in 2001. After the 2001 season, Buis went to Northwestern University to get his master's degree in sports medicine. There, he was a graduate assistant on the Wildcat team. While attending Northwestern, he helped coach the Wildcats in the 2003 Motor City Bowl.

Buis, who isn't yet in his 30s, knows he has accomplished some great feats that some coaches never do.

"I'm only 27 and I have accomplished things that coaches who have been coaching for 30 years haven't done. I've coached in a major college bowl and have won a national championship," he said.

Buis has come a long way from where he used to be, but he hasn't forgotten where he learned everything he knows.

Buis was the center and a middle linebacker for the Eagles football team during his years at South Putnam and started out as defensive back for the DePauw Tigers, before moving to center his junior year. He has remembered everything that he was taught in those few short years he said.

"Nick Mourouzis is the number one reason I am a football coach besides my family. Nick is like second father to me and he recruited me from South Putnam," Buis said of the now retired DPU coach. "He took me under his wing and taught me a lot, and if there is anything I took from DePauw it is how to coach.

"He also taught me how to balance everything between me being a coach and my family."

One thing Buis has learned is that coaching can be hard working job, but he a different view.

"After winning the championship I had two days to enjoy it then it was back to the road trying to recruit players," Buis said. "I always told my wife that I never worked a day of my life and that is something that I learned from Nick. If you like your job enough it doesn't feel like work. If you like what you are doing it shouldn't feel like a job, it should be a hobby."

Even though Buis has been graduated from South Putnam and DePauw for sometime now, he still checks in with his old coaches, and they are not surprised to see Josh where is he at today.

"After his first year coaching, he showed things on a chalk board and I was amazed at the knowledge that he had learned in a short time," Mourouzis said. "Josh started out as a defensive back for us, then moved to center where he led the offensive line, knowing all the blocking assignments, and he was a captain his senior year. He was a true leader."

One might think that if you are going to coach a position, you might have had experience at the position before, but that's not true. Buis is a running back coach for GVSU and has never played the position, but he is able to coach it thoroughly.

"If you're a good coach, you can coach any position," Mourouzis said. "Josh showed this kind of confidence his sophomore year. He came to me and said that he was confident that he could play the center position and thought he could start, and he did start his junior year at center.

"I am proud of him. He was like a son to me, and he could handle a head coach's position. He has coached the offensive line, defensive line and the backs, and the experience he received is what he needed."

Buis might have learned a lot from Mourouzis, but it all started with him playing football for Mark Wildman of South Putnam.

"Him being a running back coach at Grand Valley State just shows how much he understands the game," Wildman said. "When he was in college he used to come to our camps in the summer and help coach, and in high school you have to be able to coach all the positions. I think that is what Josh learned while he was here. And that has helped him get where he is now."

There have been many things Buis has learned in his few years of coaching, but some of the most important things were from when he was a player.

"The one thing that I have learned from every coach that has ever coached me is to treat the players as people and not just as a football player. They all respected my life and treated me like a person and that is the most important thing a coach can do," Buis said. "I had one player that I coached at Northwestern contact me and said that he wanted to be closer to home, so we brought him here and that is what coaching is all about, building relationships.

"Another thing is to get your players to play for you and if they won't play for you, won't get far. That's why you have to treat them like a person and be their friend," Buis said. "That's why people coach, so that they can help people make an impact in life and become better people."

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