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Kurt Buddenhagen is leaving Sullivan County BOCES and the Sullivan West football staff to take over as athletic director at Liberty High School.
Kurt Buddenhagen named Liberty AD
Story by Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY July 26, 2013 As of July 1, the Liberty Central School athletic program is in new hands. Under the direction of Liberty varsity football coach and physical education teacher John Wilhelm since the exit of former short-lived athletic director Andy Buchsbaum last summer, the reins to the school’s athletic program have been handed over to 1992 Delaware Valley graduate Kurt Buddenhagen.
Excited about his new digs, an affable Buddenhagen said, “It’s been great here so far just really busy running around getting acquainted with the staff and students. Everyone has been great to me since my start.”
As for his rather quick exit from the post, Wilhelm cited both his love of family and football: “I decided not to be AD anymore, and to be honest, a lot of it has to do with time,” he said. “Time for my family and time to coach football really. The AD position takes a lot of time from my family and I’m also coaching two varsity sports something had to give.
“It was one or the other; either I’d stay on as AD, or I could just continue to coach and teach, but not both. I chose the former because I’m not ready to give up coaching just yet.”
Wilhelm says he had the same concerns about time when he was first offered the post last summer. “ I actually said no initially, but I thought about it and decided to give it a shot.”
As for his replacement, Wilhelm is confident. “I’ve known Kurt for years and I think this was just a great hire,” he said. “He’s very excited and enthusiastic about his new job, and I think he’s a good fit for the athletic program here at Liberty. He’s [Buddenhagen] got a lot of my traits and I really think he’s going to do a phenomenal job.”
Regarding his immediate vision for the sports program at Liberty, Buddenhagen said, “Right now I’m focused on filling some coaching vacancies we’ve got here. We need both boys’ and girls’ modified soccer coaches, a varsity tennis coach and volleyball coaches at all levels. So I’m busy with all of that, but I really just want to build on the progress they’ve made here in recent years.
“I think coach Wilhelm has made some fantastic progress with our football program, and there are some other really great people here at Liberty. Right now I’m just getting my feet wet and trying to steer this program in the right direction.”
Coming from a “very sports oriented” family, Buddenhagen played quarterback and linebacker in high-school for the Section IX Class D Eagles. “Then I went off to college at Hudson Valley Community College where I also played quarterback for a year,” offered Buddenhagen. “Sports is just in my blood, in my DNA,” explained Buddenhagen whose brother Matt is head varsity football and track coach, as well as a physical education teacher at Monticello High-School. “I think we have seven physical education instructors in the family, there’s my younger brother Matt and my sister Kelly went to school for health.”
Asked about his experience growing up in such a competitive atmosphere, Buddenhagen offered, “Boy it was intense. Like I said it’s in our blood and we all love competing in sports. I mean we take shuffle board to the next level. Family get-togethers could get really intense. If you can play it, we play it to win for sure.”
In 1994, Buddenhagen moved on to SUNY Cortland where he joined the school’s rugby club and gained a bachelor’s degree in physical education. From there Buddenhagen headed off to Mount St. Mary’s College in Newburgh where he completed his master’s degree in special education, later obtaining his administrative certification at SUNY New Paltz.
Prior to landing at Liberty, Buddenhagen spent the last 15 years of his career teaching physical education at Sullivan BOCES. He also served as an assistant football coach at Sullivan West under Ron Bauer. In addition to his AD duties at Liberty Buddenhagen will also be teaching physical education.