State Fair Community College Lady Roadrunners Head Coach Kevin Bucher gave an emotional speech announcing his resignation Friday morning at the SFCC Multipurpose Center on the basketball court.

Friends, fans, faculty and coaches gathered to hear Bucher, wearing a powder blue suit coat and yellow tie with matching hat, list his long list of accomplishments and favorite memories over the past several years of coaching, pausing every so often to wipe a tear from his eye.

“I tell my players never give up. Never quit,” Bucher said after relating a story of winning a game with .1 seconds remaining on the clock at Three Rivers many years ago.

“It's been a great ride, and I've really enjoyed the community and the (SFCC) Boosters, they're second to none,” Bucher said after delivering his speech in a quiet voice.

Three games remain on the women's schedule for this season. Two away games, (Moberly Area Community College on Saturday and St. Louis Community College on Sunday, and one final home game vs College on April 1. The Lady Roadrunners are currently 0-15.

“I'm here actually 'til the end of my contract at the end of June. We're still trying to get that win. I've never gone this many games (without a win),” Coach Bucher said.

When asked if that situation hurts, Bucher responded “It is bitter.”

Bucher went on to say that he feels like his career has come full circle. His first year at SFCC, his team went to play at nationals with a 29-6 record.

“I never thought in my years of coaching, I'd ever be winless. I always thought I was too good of a recruiter. And so that kind of smacks you in the face, don't it?” Bucher asked rhetorically.

“But you know, sometimes, literally a bounce here and a bounce there, things change. You have to put it in perspective through your years of coaching. So there's been downers, but there's been a whole lot of great times,” Bucher told KSIS Radio.

Coach Bucher recalled one player who didn't want to leave after graduating from State Fair.

“I never really had a player, who after graduating, said they love you,” Bucher said of Mayra Brewer.

Bucher said he doesn't spend much time on Facebook, but a lot of his former players post updates. “A lot of them have kids, they've been showing pictures … it was more positive than it ever was negative,” Bucher said of his coaching career.

“I hope I have an opportunity to stay here (in Sedalia). I have a home. My mom, who's 80, lives in the (Missouri) Bootheel. So I may have to move that way. But we'll see. I'm close to getting my retirement, so I'll still be either teaching or coaching somewhere,” Bucher said, adding that he teaches K-12 physical education and health, with a minor in Science, (grades 7-9), and also an athletic director.

“I've taught in high schools and most of the colleges I've been at, and I love that. It's kind of like here on the court. I consider myself a teacher out on the court as well. I love that atmosphere,” Bucher concluded.

“Coach Bucher and I have known one another since 1982,” remarked SFCC Athletic Director Darren Pannier. “We attended the same institution in college, and we worked together in that college (Central Methodist), then I worked with him at Northwest Community College and then we hooked back in Sedalia, 16 or 17 years ago,” Pannier recalled. “So our ties go way back. This is a very hard day for me. This is something in 23 years as an athletic director you don't expect.”

With student-athletes, it's a revolving door, Pannier said. But with coaching, you want to kep them grounded for years and years,” Pannier noted. “It's difficult.”
Finding a replacement for Coach Bucher will begin next week with a national search, Pannier said, adding that when he hired men's coach Matt Brown, there were close to 300 applicants for that position.

A lot of things have “blossomed” since he coached the women's team. No buses were available to travel to away games (only vans), and no full-service cafeteria, which meant no food at all on campus on the weekends.

Pannier credited the SFCC Booster Club and school administrators to allow the program to grow. “And it has really helped to attract new, great coaches. And without the community support, we wouldn't have the outstanding programs we have now,” Pannier stressed.

“Kevin is very student focused. He wants the very best for our student athletes, and he wants them to understand what developing life skills is all about, in addition to being a great athlete and going on to the next level of play. And I really appreciate that about Kevin, and his desire to help students create a well-rounded person. So the community service that he mentioned this morning is really important – getting those players out so our community knows who are athletes are. And developing the attitude and mental toughness that it takes to be a good athlete,” said SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson, “that's tough.”

Dr. Anderson said she appreciates Kevin and the entire coaching staff for dealing with COVID this past year.

“He's left a legacy,” Anderson said of Bucher.

SFCC Assistant Women's Coach Latice Jones has a previous history with Coach Bucher as well.

“He recruited me back in 2007. He came all the way to my hometown and recruited me to play for him. He was the assistant coach, and Pannier was the head coach at the time,” Jones said.

“I already knew he was going to do great things, being the assistant coach and what he brought to the table, and the fact that he was able to do that for 11 years, and be successful, was amazing. And I'm just here to help him go out on top this season. I'm hoping to get our girls to understand that it's time to fight for him like he fought for all of us. To give us an opportunity to get a full scholarship,” Coach Jones said.

“I'm going to miss him. I'm definitely going to miss his cooking, his spirit and his energy every day,” Jones said.

“I've learned a lot. Definitely. He's one of the coaches I've stayed in contact with over the years, just asking for advice when I started coaching. And when I left here as a player,” Jones added.

When asked about the possibility of moving up as head coach, Jones responded that she would be ecstatic.

“One of my biggest things was when I left this school, it made such an impact in my life, that I always wanted to pay it forward and come back and try to win a national title here, since I couldn't do it as a player. So I would be extremely excited if they gave me the opportunity to come back and coach,” Jones said.

Jones promised that there will be changes next year.

“We have a lot of young kids, but we definitely need some size. So you'll see a lot more post players than you did this year. So that's the positive part. I've got a few nice, quick guards coming in as well, to be able to handle the ball, and be able to do some press. So whether it's myself, or whomever comes in after me, they'll definitely have some size and they'll have some speed,” Jones told KSIS Radio.

The future is looking bright for the State Fair women's program.

Jones indicated her goal is to hang a national championship banner in the rafters.

“I think that when you have a school that makes a huge impact in your life, you definitely look forward to being able to come back and do something positive for them, just like they did for you,” Jones said. “So that's what I want to do.”

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