Berks soccer icon remembered as great coach, teacher and family man

Berks soccer icon remembered as great coach, teacher and family man

Barry Buss spent the better part of 10 minutes talking about his late father and introducing many of the people who helped the legendary Ray Buss build Fleetwood into one of Pennsylvania’s premier high school soccer programs.

When he was done, Barry Buss gave others an opportunity to share their memories with the hundreds of soccer fans who came to Ray Buss Field to celebrate the soccer icon who died on Jan. 13 at the age of 92. Then he handed the microphone to former Fleetwood coach Tony Didyoung, one of Ray Buss’ former assistant coaches.

“That’s a tough act follow,” Didyoung said. “I know a thing or two about following a tough act. Imagine following Ray Buss on the sidelines here at Fleetwood.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But that’s OK. He had helped prepare me for the job.”

Ray Buss prepared thousands of former Fleetwood soccer players and students for life after high school. But Didyoung probably had one of the most unenviable tasks of taking over the Fleetwood program in 1991 after Ray Buss’ 28 years as head coach of the Tigers.

From 1964-90, Ray Buss led Fleetwood to a 476-83-42 record, 14 Berks County championships, nine District 3 titles and two PIAA championships. His 1980 team went 32-0 on its way to a state crown.

Barry Buss, who grew up on the soccer field in the 1960s and played for his father in the ’70s, said he often is asked about the secret to his father’s success.

“It’s not really all that secret,” Barry Buss said. “It consisted of all three simple concepts: Creating a soccer family with strong community ties; commitment to a youth program; and seeking out the best available competition.”

Without using the old adage, Barry Buss pointed out there was a strong woman behind his father’s success. Betty Buss, Ray Buss’ wife of 63 years, helped get players registered for the Fleetwood Youth Soccer Club when Ray Buss founded it in the early 1970s. Barry Buss also told about how his mother would buy discounted shirts and dye them red or yellow to hand out to every youth soccer player.

Betty Buss stood on the field named in honor of her husband as daughter Bonni Whitman read a Pennsylvania House of Representatives proclamation signed and sent by state Rep. Barry Jozwiak.

Ray Buss, a Marine in World World II, went on to become a 1951 All-American soccer player and two-time NCAA champions at Penn State. He also played baseball at Penn State and later coached basketball and baseball as well as soccer.

He was a teacher and coach at Blain Union in Perry County and came to Fleetwood shortly after John Magill was hired as superintendent. Magill was superintendent at Blain Union, now West Perry, when Ray Buss was there.

Tom Magill, John’s son, played for Ray Buss during his early years at Fleetwood. Tom Magill was inducted into the Fleetwood Sports Hall of Fame in 2020 in large part because of the impression Ray Buss made on him and all his teammates.

“He was inexhaustible,” Magill told the crowd. “Ray Buss lives in all of us.”

That includes the many former players who have gone on to coach soccer. All of Fleetwood’s boys soccer coaches since Ray Buss’ retirement played for Buss.

Didyoung coached the Tigers to a PIAA title in 2000 and Keith Schlegel guided Fleetwood to a 2018 PIAA title. Mike Moyer, another former player who followed Ray Buss into coaching, led Wilson to a 1992 PIAA title and later returned to Fleetwood to coach his alma mater.

Moyer was unable to attend the memorial ceremony that was delayed from January because crowd sizes were limited then due to coronavirus restrictions. But Didyoung did his best to speak for himself and many of Ray Buss’ other former players.

“He was the real deal,” Didyoung said. “He had a plan, he had a vision.”

That vision is still evident at every Fleetwood home game whenever the Tigers step on the field that was named after the legendary coach more than two decades before his death.

“We now have one of the most impressive high school soccer facilities in the state thanks to all the support from the school, the school district and the school board over the years,” Barry Buss said. “And we’re part of one of the premier soccer programs in the state that has racked up over 1,000 wins and four state championships.”

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